October 21, 2013
Treat The Kids To Halloween Science At The Museum
If your child doesn’t associate Halloween with science, then they haven’t been to a science museum in October. All over the country, natural science museums are letting the skeletons out of the closet to have fun with Halloween-related science.
When I started looking at museum web sites for Halloween science, I had certain criteria. I immediately scratched out adults only, members only, and sold out events. I also steered away from museums that were just having a party, even if the kids could incidentally look at the exhibits. I wanted places that had experiments and activities about creepy, Halloween-y science.
Only one of the museums I found is a children’s museum. Most of those are focused on having non-scary, safe Halloween experiences for young children. If that is what you are looking for, you will find plenty of places to take the tots. The exception is the Children’s Museum of Houston. While they have plenty of the Halloween arts and crafts kinds of stuff, they also have lots of real science to interact with. Kids can learn about “very cold science that makes ghostly bubbles possible.” They can move a clenching monster jaw using hydraulics. They can make glowing eyes and decode messages.
The rest of the museums are either university museums or large natural science museums.
California is a hotbed of spooky science with three museums on my list. The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco will be hosting SuperNatural Halloween on October 26. In addition to trick-or-treats, face painting and other expected activities, there will be magic, live animal shows, planetarium shows, and “scientists and specimens.”
The Lawrence Hall of Science at UC, Berkeley has several activities planned for weekends in October. There will be Creepy Crawly Animals, Mummies, and Insects vs. Robots. Kids can program a jack-o-lantern image onto a sphere, and they can build hydraulic cranes to see how many pumpkins they can lift.
Balboa Park in San Diego will have Halloween-themed activities at all of its museums. At the San Diego Museum of Man, kids can learn about Dia de los Muertos, including masks and sugar skulls. They can also stop by the Bone Yard to see how skeletons are put together and visit the mummy collection.
A little further east we have Weird Science Halloween at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. There you can “explore the magic and science behind Harry Potter, fairytales, super heroes,” and learn the science of sweets. There will be “Grossology” demonstrations and activities.
We have a museum to thrill any kid in the Midwest. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is going all out with their Halloween-themed science. First, kids can watch the original 1910 Frankenstein while you learn about sound and learn how a Foley artist uses science and creativity to create sound effects. Then, they can make ‘ghoulish slime.’ There is a ‘Trivia Wheel of Terror’ game. Kids can learn Pumpkin Pyrotechnics, dissect a cow eye, learn if pumpkins bounce, and follow Halloween candy through the digestive system. They can tour a haunted Zephyr train, or if older kids are looking for something scarier, they can enter the Haunted Coal Mine, if they dare.
Our Southern entry on the list of Halloween Science exhibits is at the University of Southern Mississippi. Southern Miss is hosting the Haunted Halloween Science Trail in the basement of the biology building of the Hattiesburg campus on October 25. This will be a revised version of their standard biology trail. College students will provide hands-on-learning activities to get children in the community interested in biology and science.
I will end my museum list with two museums on the East Coast. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh is presenting a Natural History Halloween Saturday on October 26. Education stations will include snakes, spiders and lizards. I also like the categories for their under-12 costume contest. These include ‘Creepy and Crawly,’ ‘One of a Kind,’ Fantastically Fictional,’ ‘I Belong in a Museum’ and ‘Creatures of the Night.’
The Maryland Science Center in Baltimore will host Spooky Science on October 26. Their fun includes creepy chemistry, ‘fangtastic’ demonstrations, slime, and boxes of ‘eerie items.’ They will also be a ‘Reptiles Alive!’ show with all kinds of creeping and slithering things. Finally, kids will learn about “the experimental history of the famous Dr. Frankenstein.”
I hope I have whetted your appetite for Halloween science, (or completely spoiled your appetite, depending on how you feel about creepy crawlies). This list just shows that there are lots of ways to have fun on Halloween—and learn something in the process.
Image Credit: Thinkstock