Your Hands on Some Science at OMSI
Have you ever created your own cartoon or played Connect
Four with giant robotic arms? Have you ever been inside a real submarine
or made flubber in a science lab? At OMSI you can do all of this and
more in one crazy day. With the only IMAX theater in Oregon, a laser
light planetarium, a motion simulator, a real US submarine out front,
and rooms filled with science activities, the whole family will enjoy
the varied activities at OMSI and everyone will have a blast as they
learn something new.
against the Willamette River, hidden in the East Industrial district
of Portland, a large, squat building houses OMSI, the Oregon Museum
of Science and Industry. Here, kids and adults can experience science
up-close, playing with all sorts of hands-on displays of physics,
chemistry, biology, design, outer space, and other subjects. Filled
with science labs
robots, inventions and computers, OMSI is a nest of creation and
discovery. Complex scientific phenomena are spelled out for kids
and adults to make it approachable and, even more
importantly, loads of fun.
1945 SE Water Avenue
OMSI: Now one of Oregon's most popular museums, OMSI
has been around since 1944. Today it is one of the top
ten science museums in the country. Not only is OMSI a
learning playground for all ages, it also houses Oregon's
only IMAX theater, a laser light planetarium, a motion
simulator, and is home to the USS Blueback Submarine,
which gives daily tours. Rotating exhibits make their
way through the museum as well, including a recent Star
Wars exhibit and the popular Body Worlds 3.
Tips: There are so many things to do and see at
OMSI, you may want to plan for a whole day. Check their
website before going for current IMAX movies, laser light
shows in the planetarium, and rotating exhibits.
What to bring: If it's a nice day, you could bring
a picnic lunch and enjoy the view of Portland from the
terrace while you watch bikers and joggers whiz by on
the riverside trail.
Hours: The museum exhibits and science store are
open from 9am to 9pm, seven days a week. Individual events,
some exhibits, show times, and rotating exhibits may vary,
so check their website for more information.
Getting there: To get to OMSI from West Portland,
take the Morrison Bridge to the East side of the Willamette
River and follow the OMSI signs. From East of Portland,
take I-84 West, veer left onto I-5 N, take the City Center
exit and follow the OMSI signs.
For more information about the OMSI, contact them
toll free at 1-800-955-6674.
what can be found on the informational plaques that makes this museum
so interesting, or the displays of inventors past and present. It's
not the loads of history and modern questions presented to kids and
parents that make it engaging but the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-dig-in
experience that makes OMSI one of a kind. To learn about wind power,
kids can make their own sailboat and set it afloat on a miniature
windy lake. In the chemistry lab, your little
budding scientists can don goggles and lab coats to mix up squishy
flubber to take home or watch demonstrations by real scientists. You
can also experience an earthquake in the simulator, build a bridge,
or shoot off a plastic bottle rocket.
of the fun of OMSI is the building, itself. Donated by Portland
General Electric, its original purpose as a steam generator plant
is still on display. While in the physics lab, you can learn about
how electricity works and see it in action with demonstrations that
will literally make your hair stand on end. Right outside the lab,
a giant turbine in the floor with diagrams and explanations of how
it used to work show how the building used electricity to power
daily life in Portland. Everywhere you go in OMSI, there are hands-on
activities with practical explanations and questions to follow them
Hall is where most of the action takes place. It echoes with the
sounds of pistons and giggles as kids explore the properties of
physics and chemistry in the labs, play with the physics of sound
and light upstairs on the mezzanine,
learn about design and fly a plane in the computer lab, and of course,
shoot foam balls out of tubes they can put together in the inventor's
kids can have fun in OMSI, too. Upstairs in the Science Playground,
kids 6 years and under can discover science through interactive
activities made just for them. Right next door are the Animal Secrets,
a spot where kids can look into the secret lives of the animals
in their own back yards. You'll also see modern environmental issues
and questions up-close in the Earth Science Hall and learn things
you may not have known about your own body in the Life Science Hall.
you leave, don't forget to stop by the Science Store, where you
can find the kinds of learning toys that will bring the fun of OMSI
home. On the shelves of this unconventional shop, you'll find crunchy
astronaut ice cream, science games with names like "My First
Skeleton," optical illusions, telescopes, souvenirs, nature
books, science kits and the like.
photos provided by Bonnie Caton