An Insider's Guide to the Museum of Science

Lylah Alphonse - Boston
February 13, 2012

You could spend days wandering around Boston's famed Museum of Science (mos.org). The sprawling three-level complex sits squarely on the Boston/Cambridge line and is home to the the Mugar Omni Theater and the Hayden planetarium, the most technologically advanced planetarium in New England. (And when we say that the building sits squarely on the Boston-Cambridge line, we aren't kidding. Make sure you get to the walkway on the top floor, so you can stand with one foot in Cambridge and the other in Boston—there are even outlines right on the floor, so you'll know exactly where to step.)

The planetarium and the theater are fantastic, of course, but some of the less-well-known spots inside the museum are also well worth a visit. Here's a look at five our our favorites:

1. If you have little kids in tow, grab your tickets and then head down the hall into the red wing on the first floor. You'll pass the cafe and the gift shop, but before you get to the Charles Hayden Planetarium and the Mugar Omni Theater, you'll come to the aptly named Discovery Center, which is geared toward kids ages two to seven or so. Kids younger than five can explore a mini-labyrinth of things to do; slightly older kids will enjoy the hands-on experiments in the upper level.

2. The Theater of Electricity is a must-see for older kids (younger kids may love it, too, but toddlers may find it a little too loud). Watch as lightening strikes in the same room you're sitting in, and learn all about static electricity, Tesla coils, and Ben Franklin's kite-flying experiment.

3. Near the Human Body connection exhibit, a glassed-in habitat holds several incubating eggs on one side and several newly hatched chicks on the other. It can take days for a baby chicken to crack its way completely out of its shell but, if you're lucky, you may get a chance to see a one hatching right before your very eyes.

4. The Science in the Park exhibit reinforces the fact that science and wonder are all around us, every day. It's a hands-on area where kids can explore the ideas of velocity, mass, and momentum, and if your child is high-energy you don't have to worry about the displays in this space: It's all meant to be handled.

5. On the first floor, the Green Wing is a small homage to old-school nature museums. The New England Habitats exhibit there is kid-friendly and calm, with dioramas lining the walls and a gigantic globe near the center of the room.

Photo © Yoshiki Hase

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