Sci Tech Museums

Hands-On (formerly known as Curioxity)

Oxford, England

http://www.oxtrust.org.uk/handson

Admission: [£1 â'' US $2] £5; children and students, £3.50; family, £15

Engineering judge: William Harwin, cybernetics professor, University of Reading, England

Junior jurors: Rebecca, 9, and Caroline, 5

This science gallery focuses on introducing physical concepts to young children and preteens. Our judge says that ”the exhibits are excellent in encouraging scientific thinking,” adding that because the gallery is small, ”what tends to happen is the children go back to exhibits and begin to experiment in a more thoughtful way.” He liked the Soma cube and hologram exhibits. The jurors particularly enjoyed the light-persistent screen, a working crane, and conservation-of-momentum demonstrations. Our judge says the gallery emphasizes that science is fun, and it gives ”a strong hands-on experience.”

Ontario Science Centre

Toronto

http://www.ontariosciencecenter.ca

Admission: [CAN $1 â'' US $0.90] CAN $17; teens (13–17) and seniors, $12.50; children (4–12), $10

Engineering judge: Ted Timar, business development manager, Cedara Software, Mississauga, Ont., Canada

Junior jurors: Corbin, 10, Wren, 7, and Troy, 4

Our judge says that although ”this has always been [his] favorite science center” it has ”clearly fallen behind, both on the interactivity of the exhibits and on the technology itself.” He also says the many computer exhibits are ”very poor at communicating scientific content, or at encouraging interest in science.” However, the junior jurors really enjoyed the place. Corbin said the exhibits were great, and he wants to go back ”as soon as we can.” Wren ”really liked it,” and so did Troy. Our judge says all three children learned a great deal.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

San Diego

http://www.rhfleet.org

Admission: US $7; children and seniors, $6.25

Engineering judges: Lorenz A. Kull and Don M. Lyle

Junior juror: Savannah, 7

Our judges say the Fleet museum, which is in Balboa Park, is ”a wonderful place for family visits,” with ”something of interest for adults and for children of all ages.” They particularly appreciated the interactive physical exhibits, the film offered in the associated IMAX theater, and the robotic dog. Our juror listed his favorite exhibits in this order: the robotic dog, the interactive demos, and the IMAX film.

If you would like to review a museum for IEEE Spectrum, please e-mailscitechmuseums@ieee.orgfor a reviewer’s guide.

About the Author

JANET M. SIX is the principal of Lone Star Interaction Design, in Dallas.

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