Monday, October 29, 2012

Science Centers...

We went to the Museum of Science and Industry yesterday, and it made me think of my last post (which was inspired by the Passport to Dreams blog entry) about Epcot and inspiration. 

I remember a similar discussion, a few years back, on the Reimagineering blog (now gone quiet, unfortunately), where some of the comments got to discussing whether regional science centers like the Museum of Science and Industry did a better job of educating and inspiring people than Epcot could do.  Those centers have the ability to change rapidly.  Exhibits come and go.  For example, yesterday the MSI had a special exhibit for the life of Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts.  I learned a ton about the cartoonist.  It isn't really science, perhaps, but it was fun and educational. 

There are larger scale permanent exhibits, too - like Science Storms and YOU! the Experience.  Every so often these exhibits undergo wholesale upgrades or changes - recently YOU! The Experience was closed for renovation and updating, and they made it much more pertinent to today's kids (and adults).  Science Storms is a relatively new exhibit where kids (and adults, again) can control a tornado and can learn about waves and air currents and a lot of other stuff.  Fast Forward also is relatively new and showcases some scientists' and inventors' work on cutting edge technologies and ideas.  Not everything is new every time we visit, but there have been modifications to the content of the exhibit. 

Science centers like MSI  do an excellent job of entertaining, educating, and inspiring visitors.  But the problem is that they can only do so one or two (or at the most a small group) at a time.  You can't have a thousand people working the controls to the tornado exhibit all at once.  And you can't rush a kid who is doing it.  There's a lot to do, and kids generally wait their turns and do things in an orderly fashion.  But can you imagine something similar at Epcot? 

It reminds me of Innoventions (the one on the Land and Seas side - I can never keep it straight if that's East or West).  It's the same sort of stuff.  It's fun if you're the one doing something.  But I for one find Innoventions to be perhaps the most boring part of Epcot.  Not because there isn't anything interesting there...more because you just can't really do too much when it's super crowded, like it always seems to be when we're there.  And then of course, you're always rushing to get in line for Soarin' or make a dinner reservation or whatever. 

I wish I would have gotten a chance to see Horizons.  The way people talk about it, it must have been something special.  It seems to have really inspired a lot of bloggers.  But I wonder if it was as impressive as they make it sound.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say.  Epcot as a science center plus theme park was a difficult proposition.  It's still pretty unique today.  Just not nearly as inspiring, or so I'm led to believe...


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