If you love all kinds of science, you'll love OMSI! The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, one of the top science centers in the world, sits on the east bank of the Willamette River in Portland, looking out on the Willamette River.
OMSI is an ominous building that also houses the famous Kendall Planetarium and the OMNIMAX Theater, the first theater exclusively for IMAX films in the Northwest.
It's a place to learn about physical sciences, life science, earth science, technology, and astronomy. By the time you've covered the gambit of hands-on, fun and entertaining exhibits throughout each of the halls in the giant, two story building, you'll surely be able to give Bill Nye, the Science Guy a run for his money!
My grade school used to take frequent field trips to the science museum at it's old location up in Washington Park (the Portland Children's Museum sits there now). I specifically remember climbing into a small space capsule and running around inside a big ear (you just have to be there! hehe). For a child with a short attention span, all the hands-on stuff was terrific...they made it fun to learn.
The new building on the Willamette River is much larger than the old one. The addition of the 330-seat IMAX theater, the OMNIMAX, has added significant size. They show some pretty amazing shows in there.
Just recently, they've been showing a bugs-eye view of the world around it, in addition to some great outdoor films on the ocean and India. If you've never experienced an IMAX film, you're in for a treat!
I was fortunate enough to attend a premiere opening of a show on the Arctic and the wildlife living there called, "To The Arctic." Makes sense, right? ;) It was hosted by 2010 Environmental Photographer of the Year, Florian Schultz, who was actually part of the exhibition who went there.
He hosted the event and also was there to talk about and sign copies of his amazing book of photographs that went with the film. You'll definitely want to check the OMNIMAX schedule and catch the cool shows playing there.
As a teen, my friends and I used to take regular trips to the Kendall Planetarium for the laser-light rock and roll shows....Laser Beatles, Laser Led Zeppelin, Laser (Pink) Floyd. We'd kick back in out seats as the lights would dim, the music would hit and the lasers would twist and turn to the rocking sounds of the groups. It made for some great memories and you'll can see the same types of shows playing there now (last time I was there, they had a Laser U2 show coming up).
The Planetarium also puts out some great shows, teaching visitors all about our great big universe.
While enjoying your time, be sure to include a tour of the USS Blueback submarine. This sub was used in the film, "The Hunt for Red October" and was purchased by OMSI in 1994. It now sits, docked at the river, providing daily tours to interested visitors. If you want to try something really out of the ordinary, contact them about having a sleepover in the sub! ;)
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry has the largest science outreach program in the entire country, traveling and teaching at schools, science camps, and other places where children can watch, touch and learn. Aside from what they actually do at OMSI, what is additionally awesome about all this is that OMSI get absolutely no funding from the state of Oregon...all money comes from private organizations, businesses and individuals and it's been running full-steam ahead since 1944.
My wife and I went down to go through a CSI interactive exhibit they had at one time. It allowed us the opportunity to learn about the job of forensic scientists by actually going through one of three mock crime scenes and solving the case in the same ways the real CSI people would. It was a lot of fun and taught us some very cool things.
Aside from all the wonderful things I've already mentioned, you'll find other special exhibits that change every few months, labs, workshops, a very cool motion simulator and so much more. To see and experience it all, you may have to space in out across 2 days!
You can find hours and prices for OMSI right here and keep in mind that the first Sunday of each month, you can get in for only $2! Take a trip down to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry real soon...I believe you're going to truly enjoy yourself.
Oh, by the way, they also offer a special evening just for the adults (21 and over only!). OMSI After Dark is held the fourth Wednesday of each month, through the end of 2009. This is a great time to enjoy all that OMSI has to offer....minus the Ankle Biters! ;)