Sci/Tech Museums

2 min read

Carnegie Science Center

Location: Pittsburgh


Admission: US $14; children and seniors, $10. Combination ticket packages are available.

Engineering Judge: Scott Schmidt, senior applications engineer, Aerotech, Pittsburgh

Junior Judges: David, age 6; Jessica, age 4; and Mark, age 4

This museum is host to exhibits on general science, the weather, earthquakes, and robots. There is also a planetarium, an Omnimax theater (a dome version of the popular giant Imax cinema system), and a World War II submarine. The weather exhibit includes a hurricane generator, with which visitors can move water vapor using wind, and a blue screen that allows children to try their hands at being TV weather forecasters. Our engineering judge says that he ”could easily imagine spending an afternoon” or more there without his kids and that the junior jury ”was really enthralled by being able to physically participate in the exhibits.”

PHOTO: Lily Rodriguez/The Exploratorium

The Exploratorium

Location: San Francisco


Admission: US $13; students, seniors, and youths (13�17), $10; children (4�12), $8.

Engineering Judges: Sue Kayton, self-employed, Palo Alto, Calif.; Michael Barclay, attorney, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Menlo Park, Calif. Junior Judges: Daniel, age 18; and Rachel, age 15

The Exploratorium, located in San Francisco’s Marina District, has a multitude of hands-on exhibits designed for older children and adults. Our judges say that the currency and effectiveness of the exhibits are ”excellent.” There is also a popular life-size maze called the Tactile Dome, which requires ticket reservations and whose interior is completely dark. The staff was ”extremely helpful and knowledgeable,” and our judges say that you can ”spend the entire day there, and you still won’t see everything.” Parking can be difficult, so our judges recommend an early arrival.

PHOTO: science north

Science North

Location: Sudbury, Ont., Canada


Admission: [CAN $1 US $0.90] Science center only, CAN $18; children and seniors, $15. Dynamic Earth only, $16; children and seniors, $13. Various combination packages are available.

Engineering Judges: Carol Hulls, continuing lecturer, electrical and computer engineering department, University of Waterloo, Ont.; Michael Hulls, software manager, Campana Systems, Waterloo, Ont.

Junior Judges: Maggie, age 7; and Carey, age 5

Science North comprises two locations. One is integrated into the Creighton Fault, a billion-year-old geological fault, and allows exploration of the Canadian Shield—part of the primordial rock layer that forms the heart of North America—through a cavern and a tunnel. The second, the Dynamic Earth center, emphasizes geology and mining. The Creighton center includes a special area for young children. Our engineering judges say that ”in addition to being a very fun visit, everyone learned something.” Junior juror Carey enjoyed a discussion about electric circuits with a museum staff member. Junior juror Maggie wants to work at Science North when she grows up.

If you would like to review a museum for IEEE Spectrum, please send a message to and request a reviewers’ guide.

About the Author

JANET M. SIX is the principal of Lone Star Interactive Design, in Dallas, and the author of an upcoming book on how and why companies should design easier-to-use products.

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