The Sci-Port is 92,000 sq ft of hands-on learning for all ages. And it’s not just your typical child’s science museum… The museum also includes an iMax Dome that plays multiple different features each day, a cafe, a gift shop, and a Planetarium that features shows about the stars and universe.
There are approximately 20 different areas in the museum, each of them features a different ‘science lesson’ if you will. When we first arrived, there were several sets of school groups, so we skipped over a few of the busier areas near the entrance (we went back later), and began our visit at this display, which taught the kids how to fold paper airplanes (Peanut thought it was fun to ‘learn’ how via a program on the computer, the boys didn’t bother with the instructions …)
they then to put them in launch chutes, which could be raised and lowered, with a goal to get the paper airplanes through the hanging rings. There were several displays that taught how air flows around an airplane wing, and about lift, so the kids had to utilize the knowledge they learned in order to ‘steer’ the airplanes through the hoops…The museum is spread out over two large floors, and the museum is chock full of hands on activities, for all ages. Caleb had several favorite activities; once the boys taught him how to press the buttons right to make his chair lift in this exhibit, he would have been happy had we just left him there the rest of the day!
Throughout the afternoon, the museum had special demonstration/activities. When you purchase your admission armbands, you receive a flyer with a museum map on it, calendar of special events, listing of the current films and showtimes for the iMax, and a schedule for the live demonstrations/special activities.
On the day that we went, one of the demonstrations was ‘Fire Tornado’. If you know us, there was no way we were missing any science thing having to do with a tornado (volunteer disaster relief has made us a bit obsessed with tornadoes! LOL!).
There was a demonstration on how fire must have oxygen and fuel available…
The kids were then taught about how quickly air pressure can change when ‘Daniel’ (not ours, a Sci-port employee) used a large jar, a water balloon, and a 2 pieces of paper; the water balloon was considerably larger in diameter than the opening to the jar. He started the paper on fire, placed it in the jar, and set the water balloon on top. In a matter of seconds, the fire had used up all the oxygen in the jar, which made a vacuum as there was nothing in the jar to take the place of the oxygen being used up. The balloon was sucked down into the jar. Daniel said not to try this at home, but we definitely are! LOL! :) The kids had tried to do something similar with friends once before, but I think that they weren’t using enough fuel for their fire.
Daniel then brought out 5 different kinds of salt, mixed them with a fuel, and showed us how each salt burned a different color. He then polled the audience, and we all voted on which color flame was our favorite. He then used that salt to make the tornado (we ended up with a green tornado)! Which was very cool we might add!
*and we took a picture of it, but since I had my laptop crash that night, I’m now using that new one (you know, the one that’s been sitting in the box because I hate it) – and Windows 8 and WordPress seem to have some little altercation going and they insist on flipping all my vertacle pics on their side, I can’t post many of my pics… sigh.
The Fire Tornado demonstration was so great that we thought about attending the second demo also! LOL!
Our visit happened to be on one of the very last days that the Lego Castle special exhibit was going on (closed the 12th, but a new exhibit ‘Treasures’, about treasure hunting and hunters, will open on Jan. 31)…
The exhibit had tons of hands on activitie – from thousands of Legos and building tables so that the kids could make their own castle creations, to Duplos for the smaller kids. There were some incredible Lego creations, many recreating actual castles, and several of them had time lapse footage of the Master Builders creating them. (this is one made of Duplos)
There was a big foam Lego blocks and a castle slide for the littlest…
And while the Lego Castle Days are over now, the new ‘Treasures!’ special exhibit is sure to be just as interesting and fun! It’s all about treasure hunting and treasure hunters! We are hoping it’s still here on our way back west; we’d love to see it!
Upstairs there is a Children’s area, which is geared towards ages 7 and under. If you have older kids, they can come in (supervised) as long as you are supervising with your younger kids (under 7) also. The big kids came in while Caleb and the little girls played. They stayed for awhile. LOL!
The Children’s Gallery had all sorts of activities for the littles to get involved in, including a mock bathroom; the tub had a bunch of small PVC tubes and connectors in it and the kids could plumb the bathroom, then check their work with pressure. It was great for helping kids understand how water travels within the walls of their homes…
The two little girls liked the Children’s Area, but Caleb was the one that was enamored with it. There was this cute little work truck right in the middle…
Caleb put on one of the hardhats, and sat in the driver’s seat honking the horn, steering the wheel, and watching the ‘big rig’ dvd that was playing on the dash. He stayed there the whole time, and if we tried to get him interested in another exhibit, he would protest and go right back to the work truck.
We finally left him there (with Beth, and instructions to meet us downstairs in 15 min), while we went back to check out some of our favorite areas again.
The kids loved this electricity display…
And there were several exhibits that featured learning about aspects of space. The kids liked the kiosks for different planets – they looked somewhat like old fashioned weight scales. The kids would stand on them, and the kiosk would tell them how much they weigh here on earth, then how much they would weigh on that planet (Saturn for instance); the weights were given in kilograms so the kids had to convert to pounds (conversion table provided), and it also told the kids other information about the planet, such as comparing the length of our year to theirs, and showing their orbit path around the sun.
Here Joel and Vaughn were calculating the distance and height of an object in the distance…
We loved the Sci-Port! We spent 4 hours there, and could have spent longer!
The museum was very clean, and their exhibits were well-maintained. There was only one small activity that was out of order (and it had a sign on it); activities were well stocked, and the displays were in excellent condition (colorful, in good condition, and seemed new). We loved how varied the activities were, covering everything from electricity to space to health to local Louisiana animals and culture.
The Sci-Port is located in downtown Shreveport, on the riverfront (there are local parks, and the river is right there, perfect for a picnic lunch!). Visitor parking is free in their lot.
Be sure to check out their hours of operation (they vary though-out the year) and rates here (they are a participating ASTC member, so if you have a membership to another participating science museum, you would get into the Sci-Port for free!).
You can check out the museum on their website at sciport.org, and they have a FaceBook page.
We loved our visit to Shreveport’s fantastic science museum, and are finding northwest Louisiana a fabulous place for a little family R&R! <3