centers inspire curiosity and support lifelong learning
Science centers connect people with
science. Science centers give science a presence in the community
and offer people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to ask
questions, discuss, and explore. Visit a science center, and you’ll
encounter hands-on exhibits like giant levers, wave tanks, and walk-in
kaleidoscopes. While you are there, you may go to a demonstration,
watch a skyshow or big-screen film, participate in a workshop, or
even take part in a debate about a current issue like bioethics. In
the process, you’ll experience the pleasure of lifelong learning,
whether with family, friends, or on your own. At science centers,
everyone is welcome.
Science centers provide firsthand experience and
an opportunity to develop intuitions about the natural world. In science
centers, people can feel infrared radiation, and experience angular
momentum—so when they encounter these concepts in other settings,
they’ll be likelier to understand. That’s why schools
rely on science centers for memorable field trips and auditorium programs,
hands-on curriculum, science kits, and even training for teachers.
Science centers encourage curiosity. Exhibits that
are beautiful or surprising—or even funny—can encourage
visitors to approach new phenomena and ideas. In the words of Frank
Oppenheimer, founder of San Francisco's Exploratorium, “No one
ever failed a museum.” For some, the interests awakened by science
center experiences have turned into a passion for science, and the
beginning of a lifetime devoted to teaching or research.
Photo credits: Ann Arbor
Hands-On Museum/Scott M. Fisher; The Exploratorium; Montshire Museum
of Science/Scott M. Fisher; Museum of Science, Boston; Ontario Science
Centre; Science Museum of Minnesota; Science Museum of Virginia.