Reviewed by Jennifer Peterson
Over spring break, Zach and I had the chance to visit the Pacific Science Center while on a house hunting trip in Seattle, Washington. The Pacific Science Center has a lot to offer its visitors. It has an IMAX, a planetarium, a butterfly pavilion, an insect viewing center, a math section, a mechanical/computer section, a dinosaur exhibit, a childrenĺ─˘s center, an outside water place, and a various random exhibit. It has a theme very similar to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California. The idea is that the visitors get to experience the center through hands on interaction and discovery. The main problem with the Pacific Science Center is that the themes at various locations in the museum are not carried on to other exhibits, or another exhibit that deals with the same concept may be in a completely different part of the museum. The first example I can think of is a bear sitting on a counter balanced bicycle on a wire. There is no explanation at this location of what the exhibit is supposed to achieve. However, it you are lucky enough to visit the Pacific Science Center when it is not raining, you could be one of privileged and daring visitors that gets to ride a counter balanced bicycle around a metal circle track that is suspended ten feet high above a water pool. If this scares you a little bit, do not be afraid, there is a net to catch you in the unlikely event that you should fall. It is here that they explain the principles surrounding the exhibit.
One of my favorite sections of the museum was the children's area. It was packed with exhibits that were geared toward children. There was a great center for toddlers to explore water with various toys that consisted of strainers, pinwheels, and gates to raise and lower. This section also contained exhibits that dealt with gravity (the anti-gravity mirror), angular momentum (the turning platforms), surface tension (bubble walls), and many other physical and chemical concepts.
One of the most interesting exhibits in this section of the museum was the naked mole rats. The exhibit discussed how they act very much like insects with a queen and the structure of their house. One of the naked mole rats had just had babies, and it was interesting to see the way they were treated. Many of the naked mole rats simply stepped on the babies. Another thing to note in this exhibit was that one mole rat heats up its body and then goes to the sleeping chamber. At this point all the other mole rats use the body heat of this rat for heat. This would have been a good point to talk about radiant heat, but nothing was said.
The Pacific Science Center had something for everyone from the young to the old. It was a great place to send the day. In fact, there is a chance that I will be visiting there again this weekend. There were certain things, like the continuation of themes, that could be fixed, but overall the museum did an excellent job explaining concepts at certain exhibits.