Parents Can Share Childhood Joys with Their Kids at the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago

Written for WTMX Moms in the Mix- October 2014

Our children are 3 and 5, which means we’re graduating to a new level of exploration at the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago. My husband and I were thrilled to make connections with things the kids are learning about, share joys from our own childhoods, and enthusiastically engage together.

Our first stop at MSI is always the Great Train Story. This impressive model railroad has 1,400 feet of track and fascinating details. For example, we discovered the Red Line subway station was created to reflect the real people waiting for the train at Chicago and State at 1:56 p.m. on April 3, 2002. Visit the MSI website for an Eye Spy game with 26 different items to seek out, such as a family hanging laundry and a man “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Genetics and the Baby Chicks Hatchery was a new destination for our family. Video screens displaying time-lapsed images of babies in the womb immediately drew our kids in. While we have framed ultrasound photos of them on the walls, this footage helped them grasp the amazing growth that occurs inside a mother’s belly. As we moved further into the exhibit, we got the pleasure of seeing two newborn baby chicks. Their delicate, lightly feathered bodies lay exhausted from bursting out of their shells. Some of the remaining unhatched eggs had holes pecked into the sides. We could see the bodies of the chicks breathing within. On the other end of the display were older, fluffy chicks, which helped showcase growth and development.

Luke & baby chicks
After a quick lunch break, we checked out models of Columbus’ ships in Ships through the Ages. Our 3-year-old immediately connected them to a book we’ve been reading, Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving. She loved climbing on a mockup of a tall ship and steering the giant wheel. She also enjoyed Art of the Bicycle and pointed out a three-seater similar to one in her book, Pinkalicious and the Perfect Present.

Fiona and bicycle
Hopping on the lighted floor piano in the circus area is a must-do every visit.

Luke and circus piano
Last we explored the Henry Crown Space Center. The rocket launcher was a huge hit as our kids hit the buttons again and again.

F&L rocket
My husband was a wonderful tour guide, enthralled by rocket launchers, shuttles and satellite displays he loved as a kid. Reading a sign saying, “Many fun packaged foods, such as juice boxes and yogurt tubes, were invented for astronauts” reminded me of one of my favorite museum experiences as a child — eating astronaut ice cream. We bought three kinds from the gift shop — Neapolitan, ice cream sandwich and mint chocolate chip — and enjoyed them together. Just like when my husband and I were young, our children enjoyed making wax mold spaceships for $2 each. It was fun to watch them being made and touch them while they were still warm.

We had a wonderful time at the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago reinforcing things we are reading about, revisiting childhood memories and making new ones together.