Saint Louis Science Center: The Interactive Gateway to Learning Science

        The Saint Louis Science Center (SLCS) is one of the many museums located in the St.Louis area and is also one of the most popular science centers in Missouri. This type of museum provides more than just learning about science; it is about engaging with the exhibits and taking home that knowledge. When people visit this science center, they find that there are exhibits for both children and adults to enjoy in a fun environment. The message that the Saint Louis Science Center wants to get across is they want “to ignite and sustain life-long science and technology learning” (“Saint Louis Science Center”). You can tell how passionate the science center is by looking at that mission statement and how the president of SLSC cares about keeping the love of science and learning active in people’s minds. The executive team and employees who work within this science center make sure that they are keeping up with a wide variety of science topics and popular events in the science field. Overall, the Saint Louis Science Center fulfills its mission based on its exhibits, evident by how they actively put an effort into the community and how they use friendly interactive ways to engage with their visitors.

        Walking around the outside of the science center, the building itself is set-up in a dome shape, a curved top, that reminded me of the top of a spaceship that you might see on a TV show. On the sides of the building were posters for events and exhibits that they are currently showing. Even though it is a very large building, the inside is filled with beautiful exhibits and sculptures. One of the examples of a sculpture I noticed before I was even near the door of the science center was a larger, metal version of the string telephone. Even before entering the science center, there are some of the ideas of science right outside. While going inside of the science center, one of the most interesting things I found out about this science center is that visitors do not even have to purchase tickets. The reason that this science center and only one other, out of the thousands in the U.S., has free admission is because of the Metropolitan Zoological Park (“Saint Louis Science Center”). This makes it more accessible to more of the public and I think that it definitely coincides with their mission statement.

        Within the Saint Louis Science Center, there are over 700 varieties of exhibits for everyone to enjoy (“Saint Louis Science Center”). There are ten main attractions, from life science to environmental science, and even an area to build your own structures. One of the most popular exhibits is Experience Energy, which is dedicated to learning about different forms of energy, how to conserve energy, and comparing energy efficiency between different appliances. From the color scheme to the lab coats to the activities, the Experience Energy exhibit makes you feel like a real scientist when you walk in and see what it has to offer. The Saint Louis Science Center uses these types of features in their exhibits to help bring out the science side in a typically non-science person, like myself. I really felt like I enjoyed this exhibit to its fullest by engaging and reading the posters on the walls. Another example of an exhibit allowing me to step into another field was The Dana Brown Fossil Prep lab and the Dig Site. The fossil exhibit is another one of my favorites because I love the feeling when I put myself thousands of years into the past. With the low lights, the desert colored scenes and dig sites, this exhibit explained through interactive stations what it is like to be a paleontologist and imagining what life was like for dinosaurs. The dig site has castings of real fossils that visitors are allowed to touch and dig up. The Saint Louis Science Center really does provide an outlet for learning to be more than just inside of a classroom. The SLSC are certainly dedicated to opening up the minds of future engineers, paleontologists, or just creating a love of science.

        The inside of the first level when you walk inside of the museum is filled with lots of designs and structures, ranging from an Energizer Ball machine to an enormous replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex to an aerospace exhibit. After settling and looking at the map of the levels, I found the first exhibit that I wanted to look at: the Life Science Lab. The Life Science Lab is one of the major exhibits at the Saint Louis Science Center and this one is dedicated to teaching visitors about genetics and organisms through various hands-on activities. This exhibit has a laboratory, a coral reef aquarium, and even activities where you can sample your own DNA. In the laboratory, you are able to look at different organisms through microscopes and identify what exactly you are looking at by reading the plaques. While I was visiting, there was a scientist who was explained the difference of saltwater fish to freshwater fish to a very intrigued group of children. The adults happened to be the ones really trying out the hands-on experiences, while the children listened to the scientist. I found that to be one of the interesting observations I encountered while I was visiting. Based on the first exhibit I visited, I can say for sure that the Saint Louis Science Center offers more than just children-based activities and their exhibits are interesting for any age group.

        Across from the Life Science Lab was another interesting exhibit called GROW. This exhibit is one of the more recent additions added to the science center in 2016 as a way for them to become active in the local community. I learned after I visited GROW that the president of the Saint Louis Science Center created this exhibit because he saw and understood what the local farmers were going through, such as dealing with climate changes and a decreasing bee population (Jodice). He worked to create a space so that farmers would still be able to harvest their crops and in that, he was able to create a learning environment as well. Within the local community of agriculture, GROW has definitely made an impact by providing an actual food source within a seed exchange library for farmers. The whole area of the GROW exhibit looked wonderful and I felt myself feeling like I was a part of the community as well. The exhibits and the local people allowed me to take an experience of being involved in an unfamiliar community. Being able to feel that sense of community in a different state and a different set of people gave me the impression that the science center was very genuine in their message to get others involved.

        Some of the features of the museum that I found to be a bit difficult to understand was around the smaller areas for the interactive exhibits. There was little plaques to say how to use the equipment, but the plaques did not really explain what the interactive activity was for or the history behind it. Some of the sculptures in the science center were not blocked off, and I did notice kids climbing on them, despite there being no signs to allow this behavior. I think that, as a safety precaution and just in general for keeping the structure intact, there should have been signs or a plaque around the sculpture. Despite this, the structures looked beautiful and the surrounding activities looked like they were very well taken care of and clean. I mention that all the exhibits look clean and did not seem to be unsanitary because around most exhibit entrances and exits were hand sanitizer machines. The science center does take their equipment seriously and understand that everyone will end up touching something in the exhibits at least once. As for anything else negative, nothing else really seemed to stick out to me. I could tell that the employees who set up the exhibits put in time to make sure the exhibits were taken care of and each one was secured. The Saint Louis Science Center is a very fast-paced environment, with hundreds of people visiting everyday. It is an important task to be able to make sure that everything is setup properly so that the visitors and the exhibits don’t get hurt or damaged.

        Visiting other science centers in the past, I can say that this one was particularly interesting to me. The admission to the science center is free, which is a huge help for larger families who want to visit or for school groups and makes it extremely accessible. All the exhibits are free to the public, which I find amazing based on how much work the employees put into every exhibit and event. In this sense, the Saint Louis Science Center fulfills their mission statement because it is free for anyone to visit and enjoy learning about science in a very user-friendly atmosphere for people of all ages. They are one of the three science centers in Missouri with the title of being Smithsonian Institution Affiliate (“Saint Louis Science Center”). Within the Saint Louis area, the Saint Louis Science Center are the first science center to receive this title and have access to different Smithsonian based exhibits and work with similar organizations (“Saint Louis Science Center”). This science center definitely strives for excellence, and it is reflected in the awards and titles that they receive.

        If you were to visit all of the exhibits in the Saint Louis Science Center, it would most likely take the whole day or more to really be able to take in all of the information. Going back to their mission statement of wanting to ignite a passion for learning and understanding different forms of science, the science center takes it further than that to include the local community. The Saint Louis Science Center is truly an exceptional place for learning about science and making the time spent there worthwhile. There is lots to look at, it is easy to find yourself distracted by the beauty of the artwork and structures everywhere. Each exhibit has features to put you into the mindset of what it is like working in different science fields. The experience of walking into different exhibits and understanding what it is like to be in a different field each time was something that not all museums can accomplish. The science center really work to push furth the ideas of what it is like to be an engineer studying forms of energy or working with organisms on a daily basis.



Works Cited

Jodice, Noah. “St. Louis Science Center’s new GROW exhibit comes alive.” Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, 3 Aug. 2016. Accessed 15 Sept. 2017.

“Saint Louis Science Center.” Missouri EPSCoR. Accessed 15 Sept. 2017.

“Saint Louis Science Center.” Saint Louis Science Center. 8 Sept. 2017. Accessed 15  Sept. 2017.



 

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