Sunday, February 15, 2009


Well, we decided last Tuesday - last minute as usual - to head up to Portland for the three-day weekend. Our main purpose was to visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). I consider this to be the best children's museum I have ever visited, although Seattle comes very close, if only for the butterfly house. What makes this one so great is that almost everything is hands-on, which is especially great for boys, so many of whom are kinesthetic learners. In addition to the exhibit halls, there is an IMAX theatre, a planetarium, an awesome science store, and temporary exhibits (this time it was Da Vinci).

When I was in grade school, a group from my school came to Portland every year for a basketball tournament. There are several things we did every time, one of which was to visit OMSI, so I have fond memories of coming here as a child. My clearest memory is of the Gravitron. It's one of those things where a little metal ball rolls on one of several tracks until it gets to the bottom, at which point it is hoisted back to the top to start down all over again. As you can see, kids are still fascinated with it and, I must admit, even as an adult I can sit and watch it for several minutes without the slightest feeling of boredom. Dakota and Dylan sit for at least five minutes and watch it every time we visit.

OMSI is so densely packed with activities and exhibits that, even though we have visited at least half a dozen times (and I want to say closer to ten times), we still haven't done it all. Dylan always heads straight for the paper airplanes and bridge building area, frenetically testing everything that catches his eye as he races through the main exhibit hall. Dakota still hasn't really gotten past the Chemistry lab, robotics, Physics lab and ball area, all of which are in the first two-thirds of the hall.

Dylan and I spent a couple hours on Saturday and Sunday making various paper airplanes, which we then tested in the "wind tunnel" and aimed at a target to see how accurately they flew. We kept the best of them to show off for Dakota and Devin back in the hotel room. Dakota's reaction was, "HUH, I never knew they had paper airplanes! Where are those?"

Here's Dylan in the robotics section trying to move the circle to the other end of the metal tube without being beeped (when they touch each other).

I highly recommend OMSI to anyone in Portland with children middle school aged and younger. When they get to high school age they don't want to do ANYTHING with their parents, most of all a lame educational museum. For everyone else, this is definitely one thing not to pass up.

1 comment:

Barb said...

That looks very cool and I can't believe how big Dylan is getting!