Things to Do in Baltimore: Maryland Science Center
The Maryland Science Center is located in Baltimore, Maryland's inner harbor and is the oldest scientific institution in Maryland, one of the oldest in the United States. It was founded in 1797 as an amateur scientific society where distinguished members of society would discuss and research the natural sciences (i.e. astronomy, botany, zoology).
These meetings were fairly informal, irregular, and held in a small nearby museum. In 1897, a fire destroyed the majority of the museum's collection including its library and most of its records for the past 100 years, the organization reformed as "The Maryland Academy of Sciences".
Some of the most famous and distinguished families in Baltimore were a member of the Academy at this time and the organization saw unprecedented expansion and advancement. The Academy was able to engage the public and heavily increase membership by building an observatory and hosting weekly lecture series. Maryland Science Center
With space becoming more limited and interest in the Academy higher than ever, the board was on the hunt for a new location. Just after the end of World War II, the Academy officially opened the Maryland Science Center at its current location on the inner harbor. This new space allowed for the addition of many exciting improvements over the years, including interactive exhibits, a planetarium, an atrium lobby and the very successful IMAX theater.
The Center underwent a major renovation project in May of 2004 which included the addition of new exhibitions on every floor, a permanent showroom for dinosaurs and earth sciences, as well a gallery for temporary exhibitions. The renovation also upgraded the IMAX theater, which is now state-of-the art, offering 3D films, putting visitors right in the action.
Today, the Maryland Science Center receives hundreds of thousands of visitors a year and is the scientific and technological pride of Baltimore. Visitors of all ages will find something exciting to discover. Photo:
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»Permanent Educational Exhibits
There is plenty to see and do at the Maryland Science Center, including 13 permanent gallery exhibits, a studio dedicated to scientific encounters, the IMAX theater, the Davis Planetarium, as well a variety of educational programs and events.
Some of the exhibits feature topics on: The Human Body, Dinosaurs, Sea life, Physics, and even Life Beyond Earth. The exhibit entitled "Cells: The Universe Inside Us" allows visitors to zoom in on their own body and see the trillions of cells that are inside of their bodies, what they do and how they make humans work. Some highlights of the exhibit include flying through a virtual cell, a giant maze that show the process of proteins being made, and even cells from the brain, heart, and muscles.
The "Dinosaur Mysteries" exhibit features more than one dozen full-size dinosaur displays, a working field lab and dig pits, and even live dinosaur decedents: lizards and toads. Visitors will feel like true paleontologists while exploring this exhibit.
"Follow the Blue Crab" exhibit features the treasure of the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Blue Crab. This exhibit has a large mechanical blue crab, live terrapins, crabs, native Maryland fish, and even walk-on satellite imagery of the local ecosystem. Photo:
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The exhibit entitled "Life Beyond Earth" allows visitors to explore new discoveries in the universe and follow the hunt for new solar systems similar to Earth. Visitors can take part in state-of-the-art surface touch table activities and look at extremophiles - creatures who live in extreme environments right here on our home planet.
"Newton's Alley" is a budding physicist's dream come true. This is one of the museum's most popular exhibits and it features lots of interactive activities related to motion, touch, and sound. This exhibit allows visitors to touch a cloud, pull themselves upstairs while in a chair, and even see sound. The Center likes to refer to this exhibit as being "powered by people power".
"Power Up" features a highly interactive and group-based experience relating to everything electric. Visitors can work as a team to turn a generator and power up different household items or act as the electrical engineer who has to distribute power across a city. There are plenty of real-life challenges in this exhibit for future engineers to enjoy.
The "Science Main" exhibit allow visitors to take a stroll down main street and see how science interacts with their everyday lives. Visitors will walk past iconic Baltimore landmarks while solving puzzles, exploring physics, and completing engineering challenges. They can literally "take a stroll through science".
The "SciLab" is a truly exciting hands-on exhibit where kids become the scientists. They will wear lab coats and safety goggles while conducting experiments and using common lab equipment.
"The Shed" is part workshop and part laboratory where visitors can learn how things work and how to use tools. There are annual programs that visitors can enjoy, currently in progress are: Wind Tubes, Woodworking, Animation, and Textiles. Be sure to check the MSC calendar to see what program will be going on during your visit.
There is also a Kid's Room specifically aimed at helping children younger than 8 years old engage with science in a fun way. This area has a large water play zone and many ways to learn with hands-on experiences. It is a safe and special area for pint-size engineering and experimenting.
These are just some of the permanent exhibits at the Maryland Science Center, there are plenty more exciting galleries and worlds to explore. Photo:
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»Attractions and Shows
The Center offers a variety of Scientific Encounters, visitors can Witness live hair raising science experiments on the Demo Stage, view Global changes on a 3-dimensional sphere at Science On a Sphere, encounter the night sky in all its glory in the Observatory, and even keep up to date on what to look for in our night sky with SciCasts. Tickets for all of these experiences are available for purchase.
The IMAX theater shows a variety of scientific and educational films year-round. Whether visitors want to tour the deepest parts of the sea or the tallest snow-capped mountains, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Everything from butterflies to humpback whales are featured at the state-of-the-art 3-D theater.
The Davis Planetarium features many exciting experiences with the night sky and the universe in which we live. The dome transforms and transports visitors to different galaxies and allows them to soar amongst the stars, the planets, and even black holes.
There is no shortage of exciting and educational year-round exhibits for members of the entire family at the Maryland Science Center. The schedules for the theater, the planetarium, and the scientific encounters stage can be found on the MSC website. Photo:
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»Ongoing Programs and Community Education
The dedicated staff and volunteers at the Maryland Science Center are very proud of their educational programs and their involvement in spreading the love of science to the local community through various activities and events.
Younger visitors can attend an evening camp-in session at the Center or even attend a week-long science camp in the summer months. There are numerous resources for educators and students alike, including field trips, and events for homeschooled students. The Center can even send scientists to your school if needed, the traveling science program is a respected program that brings hands-on scientific experiences to various schools.
The Center also enjoys helping families and young scientists achieve their educational dreams. There is a scholarship program set-up through the Center and even award programs for the outstanding young scientists and engineers. There is also a family science night where families can enjoy time together while learning about science and math.
The hard-working staff at the Maryland Science Center wants to spread their love of science and technology throughout the nation with these exciting and educational programs. Photo:
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»Planning your Visit
There are a wide variety of options when visiting the Maryland Science Center. There are class field trips, group admission discounts, and various pricing options depending on what each visitor would like to see. No time to see it all in one day? The MSC offers lower admission prices for visitors only planning to see certain aspects of the Center. Be sure to check the ticket information page for further details.
There is a relaxing cafe and a fun science store at the Center. The surrounding Baltimore area is a cultural and historic hub that is sure to delight visitors from around the globe. There are endless museums, concerts, historical sites, shopping and fine dining.
Visiting the Maryland Science Center is easy, its deciding what to do there that's the difficult part. There are endless options for visitors of all ages to explore and enjoy.
Back to: Best Things to Do in Baltimore, Maryland
Address: 601 Light Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, website, Phone: 410-685-5225 Photo:
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Things to Do in Baltimore: Maryland Science Center
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