This summer, we’ll be doing a road trip where we’ll be camping out each night and during each day, checking out a science museum (or children’s museum) with our 8 year old. I have created a map of all the science museums in the Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California – north of Sacramento) that participate in the travel passport program of the Association of Science-Technology Centers. This is a reciprocal membership program where if you are a member of one museum, you get free admission to other museums, which is a great benefit. (Now, we also believe in financially supporting all these great museums, so we do plan to eat meals there, shop in gift shops, go to IMAX movies, etc.) I also included on the map all the children’s museums that participate in the reciprocal program through the Association of Children’s Museums. The ASTM sites have blue pins, the ACM sites have orange pins, and there are a few green pins where I included attractions that are not part of either of these programs, like Mindport museum in Bellingham, WA and the laser show and visitors center at Grand Coulee Dam.
This summer, as we tour each museum, I’ll add reviews on this site – go to my Destinations page for links to all the reviews. (I’ll also document any inspirations I get about new hands-on STEM projects for kids to add to this site and to the curriculum of the STEM enrichment class I teach.) Here’s what we plan to see, and the notes I have on it so far, based on a quick review of their websites.
- the Reach in Richland, WA – may be more adult focused. Geology, flora and fauna of the region, hydropower on the Columbia River, the Manhattan project and the cold war.
- Grand Coulee Dam visitor center and Laser Light show.
- Mobius Science Center – “Inquiry-based exhibits, technology, and skill-building activities” and Mobius children’s museum – photos show wind tube, water play, and lots of exhibits. In Spokane, WA.
- Palouse Discovery Science Museum in Pullman, WA – looks small, but kid friendly. https://www.palousescience.net/animal-hall Website says “…allow yourself at least an hour to tour our exhibit halls. These exhibits are not limited to: an animal hall, innovation lab, mammoth dig, brain builders, puzzles, optical illusions, electromagnets, nanotechnology, and more!”
- Science Works hands-on museum in Ashland, OR. (Home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.) “Wild music” exhibit, Da Vinci’s Garage (A space dedicated to tinkering, experimenting, and playful invention.) Outdoor exhibit – This exhibit “creates a hands (and feet)-on experience, allowing you to climb through geological periods.”
- Eugene Science Center in Eugene, OR. ” Explore science topics including astronomy, mechanics, optics, biology, water quality, and nanotechnology. Try turning a giant Archimedes Screw, creating watersheds, engineering wind turbines, and completing numerous mental and physical challenges. You can also explore fossils, minerals, skeletons, and meteorites in our Discovery Room!”
- Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene, OR. Oregon history, archaeology, climate and eco-systems, mammoths, and dinosaurs.
- Gilbert House Children’s Museum in Salem. Farm to table, Body / medicine exhibit, engineering studio, includes a “Build-It” room with a variety of materials for guests to construct whatever they would like, Fortopia, “campground”, Tinker Tracks, wind tube, blue blocks, cool outdoor area.
- Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, OR (between Portland and Salem). Displays ranging from the elegant aeronautic designs of two bike mechanics – Orville and Wilbur Wright – to an actual Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. The centerpiece of these aeronautic breakthroughs is the original Spruce Goose.
Other museums I can recommend for adults or kids in the 4 – 10 year old range:
- Pacific Science Center – Seattle, WA
- Science World in Vancouver, BC
- MOPOP in Seattle, WA. Not a science museum, but great exhibits on science fiction!
- OMSI in Portland, OR
- Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett, WA
Go to my Destinations page to find links to many other reviews, including my reviews of
- Kids’ Discovery Museum on Bainbridge Island, WA
- KidsQuest Children’s Museum in Bellevue, WA
- Mindport in Bellingham, WA