The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Portland is truly amazing. We didn’t have nearly enough time to see everything but general admission to the main sections of the museum provided ample interaction, entertainment, and learning for all of us. If you have more than just one day to explore, you’ll also want to check out the Omnimax giant 5-story-screen theater, multimedia Laser Light shows or vivid high-tech presentations about stars and space in the Planetarium. You can also tour a real Submarine in the water (the USS Blueback is parked in the Willamette River), or experience a Motion Simulator for an additional cost.
We started in the Turbine Hall where you can witness the power of rocket propulsion, earthquakes, electricity, and more. Multiple interactive exhibits give kids a chance to harness that power for themselves, starting with a water rocket and air-propelled shooting bottle.
Holograms and fiber optics are displayed and explained in a room off to one side while another area offers hands-on physics experiments including a hair-raising static electricity ball.
Kids can play Connect Four with a real robot or test their speed in performing very specific actions compared to the abilities of a robot.
Next we experienced the feeling of an earthquake in a small house that shakes and rattles when you press a button or build your own structure to test whether it will withstand a shaker.
There are too many exhibits to list them all but we also loved the boat building station where kids build a variety of boats then test their speed and the Inventor’s Ball Room where pipes can be connected in infinite ways to send balls flying in every direction.
As if there wasn’t enough to keep us engaged on the first floor, we headed upstairs for more interactive fun and learning.
Who knew that information about calories and nanotechnology (separately) would intrigue a 3 and 5 year old so? OMSI knew… and they executed all of it beautifully. There were places to jump, spin and balance to show the way the body uses calories and enlargements of the body using marbles to show the way nanoparticles can move into the bloodstream. Several exhibits highlighted the intelligence of animals then the kids got to see some up close in the Life Sciences room.
One of the halls was closed during our visit (they were taking down an exhibit and putting up a new one) so there is usually even more to explore.
For us, the Science Playground designed for kids ages 6 and younger was the perfect way to end our visit there. A little more low key than the other areas, we all enjoyed winding down pretending to be squirrels searching for acorns, using a pulley to move bean bags, playing with blocks, and sifting and moving some sparkly sand in a big sandbox area.
Extra Fun: Before or after your visit, check out OMSI’s great interactive activities online http://www.omsi.edu/for-kids
Food & Snacks: Fuel up before you dive into this wonderful interactive world, you’ll need your energy. Food and drinks are available at the OMSI Café or Galileo’s Coffee Bar but I doubt my kids would have been able to sit still for a meal once they were there. We opted to drive a little bit further South, into the Belmont neighborhood for a healthy and hearty lunch at the Laughing Planet Café, totally worth the slight detour.