The Accidental Homeschooler
“Because we can.”
That’s the standard response when I ask my boys why they are doing what they are doing. Not that they’re doing anything wrong. It’s just that I’ve never seen a backpack made entirely out of duct tape before, or a child-sized cardboard rowboat, or a marble run that spans 3 floors of our house. So, sometimes, I have to ask: “Why?”
At the Museum of Science and Industry, it’s not about “Why?” But “Why not?” It is the perfect place for my fearless myth busters to unleash their inner scientist. Visitors to the museum will enjoy lots of science on display, and also take part in daily presentations by the enthusiastic museum staff. Presentations like “Poop Happens” and “Bangs, Flashes and Fire” can’t be found at many other museums. But don’t just take it from me. Here’s what my boy bloggers have to say about it:
Boy 1: “Ok, so my favorite exhibit is the U505 Submarine. If you like engineering or WWII, then getting a tour of a huge famous submarine will be pretty cool. The best time to go is when they show something like a Mythbusters exhibit. If you’re a ten-year-old, then check out the cloning exhibit too. I learned how to clone goats and about DNA. In short, I learned a lot at the MSI.”
Boy 2: “My favorite part of the museum was Robot Week the first time I went there. I saw a robot called Pleo. Pleo is a robotic dinosaur, which you might not think is anything special except that Pleo can think for himself. You can also feed him with food that has a barcode in it. The Science Storm upper floor is pretty cool too. There is a play area for kids to play which has water stuff and the Toymaker 3000 (aka. a machine that makes gravatrons which are spinner-things that don’t really fly. But they do stay on a pole and they are on it for a while. The pole is actually a cone.) There’s also a Swiss Jollyball machine, and there are only a few in the world. I think maybe one or two — or maybe three or four? There is now a frozen yogurt machine served by a robot. (You’ll see that at the Shedd Aquarium too.) There is also an Omnimax theater.
For mom, the best part is that Illinois homeschoolers and their parents receive FREE admission to the museum during school days. Of course, special exhibit passes and movie tickets can still be purchased at the non-member rate at the ticket counter. And kids ages 8 and up can check out the “Fab Lab” for an additional fee. The Wanger Family Fab Lab is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It allows visitors to try out the latest printing technology by creating their own laser-cut stickers, key chains, and 3D models. Be sure to check the website for workshop times. However, it’s also possible to enjoy a day without any added fees. The museum calendar includes hourly presentations at a variety of exhibits that are always free to visitors. No matter how often we go, there’s always more to do and see. When it comes to the Museum of Science and Industry, there’s always something new to learn, “Because we can.”
*Editor’s Update 9/23/2015: Homeschool families must reserve their free tickets at least 24 hours in advance. Visit Home School Field Trip Reservations to reserve.