Pacific Science Center

The Pacific Science Center in Seattle is a nonprofit, independent science museum. It originally opened as the United States Sciences Pavilion of the Century 21 Exposition, otherwise known as the 1962 World's Fair. After the fair was over, the museum reopened under its new name as part of the Seattle Center complex. While many of the museum's original exhibits have become outdated and closed, the organization continues to provide its visitors with excellent ways to learn about and interact with modern science.

The Seattle Science Center encourages learning in a very interactive way. In the Body Works exhibit, visitors learn about their own bodies. There are games to test reaction time, a bicycle to burn calories, and computer games that teach nutrition. The Science Playground teaches how machines, motors and gyroscopes work. There are outdoor exhibits that allow visitors to spin a two-ton granite ball with their bare hands, ride a bicycle fifteen feet above the ground or walk in a large water wheel. In the Kid's Works exhibit, children can freeze their shadows onto the wall. They can monitor the real-time carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere around the Seattle Center at the Sound Atmosphere exhibit, which uses a gauge situated on the top of the neighboring Space Needle.

Step into the Dinosaurs: A Journey through Time exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, and it is as if you've traveled back in time. Seven animatronic dinosaurs move and roar in an environment much like the one they would've lived in. Visitors can explore these creatures and their world, including a life-size dinosaur footprint, fossils and dioramas. Visitors can also learn how animatronic robots work.

There are many options for animal lovers at the Seattle Science Center. There is an animal exhibit which includes a colony of East African naked mole rats. If insects are more your style, check out the Insect Village, with large robotic insects, live displays and interactive exhibits. Local marine life is highlighted in the saltwater tide pool, where a 100-square-foot scale model of the nearby Puget Sound allows visitors to touch the sea creatures that call this area home. The Pacific Science Center also offers a break from the cool Seattle weather in the butterfly house. Filled with hundreds of butterflies and tropical flowers, this 4,000-square-foot exhibit maintains a temperature in the low 80s. There is a viewing window to watch butterflies emerge from their cocoons, and new butterflies are released every morning

Technology is celebrated at the Pacific Science Center. The Willard Smith Planetarium, originally incorporated into the museum in 1977, has recently installed a new, state-of-the-art digital projection system. This system has improved the planetarium's shows immensely, allowing viewers to see five times as many stars as before. At the Seattle Laser Dome, one of the world's largest laser dome theatres, visitors can choose which laser show they prefer to see based on the accompanying music. Artists offered include Bob Marley, the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Daft Punk. The Seattle Science Center is also one of the few places in the world to offer two IMAX theatres, offering documentaries and mainstream films. After screening a 3D film, wander over to the Adventures in 3Dimensions exhibition to learn how the human brain comprehends our world and what technology is used to replicate it.

The Pacific Science Center also reserves space for featured exhibitions, as well. Some of the most popular past exhibits have examined Chinese history, artifacts from Titanic, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 2012, The Pacific Science Center will host an exhibition of Tutankhamen and Egyptian pharaohs.

Image: Bitman (flickr)
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