Sci/Tech Museums

2 min read

NASA Space Center Houston

This Texas museum is housed next door to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Our judge says that ”just walking in the front door gave us an adrenaline rush.” Exhibits include Kid’s Space Place, a walk-through history of space vehicles (including some life-size replicas), and moon rocks. Bus tours of the center itself are also available. Museum staff, who wear astronaut work suits, are easy to find and very helpful. Our judge says that ”it was exhilarating to see so many people excited about science and space exploration.” The junior juror particularly enjoyed all the control panels on the mock-up space shuttle flight deck.

Location: Houston


Admission: US $18.95; Children (4�11), $14.95; Seniors, $17.95

Engineering Judge: Janet M. Six, Wylie, Texas

Junior Juror: Alexander, age 1

PHOTO: Intel Museum

Intel Museum

Location: Santa Clara, Calif.


Admission: Free

Engineering Judges: Sue Kayton and Michael Barclay, Palo Alto, Calif.

Junior Jurors: Daniel, age 18; and Rachel, age 15

Located at Intel’s corporate headquarters, this museum focuses on the history of chip making. Our judges found the exhibits to be ”interesting and accurate” and recommend the museum to those interested in computer technology. They were particularly impressed by the model of the Pentium chip displaying its internal architecture. However, they were disappointed by the small size of the museum and its limited hours (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays). Our judges also noted that they did not see any center staff during their visit. The junior jurors were happy to discover ”so that’s how a computer works.”

PHOTO: Paul Scherrer Institut

PSI Forum Visitor Centre at the Paul Scherrer Institut

The Paul Scherrer Institut is the largest research institution in Switzerland, and the PSI Forum serves as its visitor center. The center’s highlights for our judge were the exhibits on free-falling objects and the periodic table—with many element examples. The junior juror particularly enjoyed an exhibit that allowed him to use a robot arm to build a model of a molecule and a three-dimensional movie about superconductors. However, he was frustrated that he could not understand many exhibits, which appeared to be geared for an older audience. Our judge still thinks David’s visit was worthwhile, because ”soon he’ll have the background knowledge required for these topics and will benefit from the early exposure.”

Location: Villigen, Switzerland


Admission: Free

Engineering Judge: Michael Schumacher, Turgi, Switzerland

Junior Juror: David, age 11

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

About the Author

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

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