The joy of growing up in Maryland is that our field trips were always the best. Not only did we have access to so much history in both Washington, DC and Virginia, but we also had access to a thriving entertainment hub in the heart of Baltimore city known as the Inner Harbor.
The Inner Harbor, while having changed since I was an elementary schooler, still has many of the great family travel activities that I experienced, like the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the Historic Ships in Baltimore but also the Maryland Science Center. In fact, I was kind of surprised that they are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year!
Wanting to keep my 9 year old occupied this summer while not letting his brain go to mush, we set out on a weekday afternoon to see what the Maryland Science Center had to offer.
Having recently attended a field trip there, Evan was my tour guide. He was already pretty clear on what he wanted to see and what we could skip. “I thought you said you didn’t get to see much when you were here for your field trip?” I asked. He said he saw a lot but just didn’t have the free time to explore what he wanted. So off we went with him steering us in whatever direction he wanted.
We started in a section called designed to teach Evan everything I never learned about physics. Although I’m a science-y person, physics has never been my strong suit. Luckily, there are lots of hands-on exhibits to learn about energy, waves, and pulleys. We even splurged and spent $2 to get a first hand experience with hurricane force winds (see video below).
“Skip the dinosaurs,” he told me as we headed upstairs to the Human Body exhibit. A true sign that he’s not as little as he once was.
We went straight to the two things he was most excited to show me. The Whisper Dishes were two discs set up at either end of a room. When we leaned in a whispered, we could hear what the other person was whispering, and luckily no one else could.
But his biggest excitement came from showing me the bed of nails he was able to lay on. And not to be the boring grown-up, I hopped on too. It does feel like nails but with your weight evenly distributed, no blood is shed when you lay down.
After getting that back massage, we went over to explore more about the human body and found…
Well, not a whole lot. Many of the exhibits just didn’t work. The headphones below either gave no sound or were just plain missing. And it made me think that the Maryland Science Center was starting to show its age.
What it was lacking in some of its existing exhibits, it more than made up for when we stumbled onto the SCILAB, a hands-on lab of kid-oriented science experiments for 3rd graders and up.
Dr. Evan looked the part with his lab-provided coat and safety glasses and once he got started, he was all “Let me do it!” I supervised, but only because he let me.
We started with an experiment that allowed him to breakdown the cell membranes of wheat germ and actually extract the DNA.
He loved it so much that we asked if he could do another experiment. This time, we were learning all about membrane permeability, which we both thought was super cool
And since we were feeling lucky (and the lab was closing soon), he sat down and did one last experiment to learn about the proteins in different blood types.
He loved it so much that he decided he might want to do “science” as a career. Too bad it’s not always that fun in the science world.
We were lucky that we were able to do so many experiments on our own as there was no one else in the lab. It was actually the perfect time of day to come. We arrived close to 3pm when all of the day campers were leaving and the place was practically empty. Even though the center is open later in the summer, we stuck around until about 5:30pm, spent a little time walking on the harbor, and made it home with hardly any traffic. A rush hour miracle.
Want to see more of what we did? You got it.
I attended the Maryland Blogger Bash in May of this year where I was the lucky winner of a VisitBaltimore prize pack including two VIP passes providing complimentary admission to many visitor attractions in Baltimore city. Is there something you want me to explore in downtown Baltimore? Let me know!