Educators planning a trip for their students will find the Maryland Science Center, located at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, a great place to visit.
A variety of exhibits will have students and teachers alike wishing they had more time to spend at the Science Center. Or more likely, already making plans to take another trip to spend even more hours exploring all the facility has to offer.
Many begin with Dinosaur Mysteries, where students and teachers will step into the world of prehistoric predators and plant eaters. More than a dozen full size dinosaurs roam a landscape filled with dig pits, a field lab, excavation sites, and other areas of discovery. Students will meet T. Rex and Astrodon and see full size skeletons and casts of fossilized remains, all hands-on.
There are also live animals, including amphibians and lizards, to help students see the connection between past and present. Some students may even agree with scientists who think birds and dinosaurs are related.
Another display at the Maryland Science Center, “Follow the Blue Crab,” is an exhibit focused on the Chesapeake Bay and its relationship to Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic. Featuring live diamondback terrapins, crabs, fish, seahorses, and native plants in aquatic display tanks, the exhibit gives guests a chance to walk the Bay by way of huge full color satellite imagery that takes up a major part of the floor space. By walking across the map, students are able to observe the ratio of water to land, concentrations of population centers, and learn why the health of the Bay is so important for the health of the region.
Also in the Blue Crab display is a huge mechanical crab, an icon of the Science Center. The completely refurbished giant, with waving claws and moving legs, is a family favorite.
In Fossil Quest, those on student tours see evidence of meat eating dinosaurs, raptors, and crocodiles that once roamed Maryland. There is also evidence that giant Sequoia trees once grew in the area, albeit millions of years ago.
Fossils on display include 70 million year old crocodile armor; teeth from a 100 million year old Mosasaur, prehistoric shells of oysters and nautilus as well as cones believed to have dropped from a giant redwood eons ago.
Visitors to the Maryland Science Center will also delight in Kid’s Room, where they can send boats down a river channel, operate a fish cam in a submarine, or dress-up like a turtle. Fun activities such as sending messages through a pneumatic tube on the ceiling abound.
In Newton’s Alley, one of the Maryland Science Center’s most popular exhibits, students get a chance to play a stringless harp. Or touch a cloud. They “see sound” and can stretch a soap film, all by people power.
The highly interactive discovery areas reveal the phenomena of matter, energy, force and motion, all through some of the best demonstrations of Sir Isaac’s principles using active exploration.
In the Our Place in Space exhibit–also home to Science On a Sphere–a large visualization system uses computers and video projectors to display animated data onto the outside of a sphere. The entire exhibit is an animated globe that shows dynamic images of the atmosphere, oceans, and land of a planet, allowing students to imagine gazing upon Earth while suspended in orbit above its surface.
Even beyond the surface of Earth, there are wonders to explore, including data collected from Moon missions and Mars explorations that have been translated into a mix of live presentations and computer simulations.
In Your Body: The Inside Story, Maryland Science Center visitors are able to explore a day in the life of the body, with an emphasis on the sounds, smells, sights, and sensations of everyday life.
Examples include walking through the waking chamber after “sleeping” on a real bed of nails, watching an ordinary bike ride to school morph into thermal imagery of muscle activity, and standing inside the heart and lungs to feel the rhythmic beats and breaths, from head to toes.
In Bodylink, one of three “Link” galleries, students will enjoy a high tech environment accompanied by high touch experiences. They’ll be able to test their nutrition I.Q., monitor their pulse and heart rate as they pedal a stationary bike, or surf the Web, watching video clips of the latest news from the world of healthcare and health science.
This part media center, part discovery room, part newsroom is equipped with Internet-ready computers, media players, satellite television and surround-sound audio systems. Computer and video sources displayed on huge screens offer visitors a unique immersive experience.
SpaceLink, the second of the Link galleries at the Maryland Science Center, is a place where students can “dock” the Space Shuttle or construct a planetary rover. They can also watch NASA’s latest launch countdowns and press conferences or try on a flight suit.
SpaceLink is also home to the Hubble Space Telescope National Visitor Center, where students can keep up with the latest discoveries from this orbiting observatory.
In TerraLink, the third of the Link galleries, students can fly over images of local cities and cities around the world and navigate from low-Earth-orbit to the top of their house using real data. They can even observe and disrupt a forming tornado with their hand.
All in all, the Maryland Science Center is a great place for teachers to bring their students as part of an adventurous educational travel experience.