Weekend Highlights

Published June 6, 2013
Going Places

“Imaginate” at Pacific Science Center

by Tonya J. Cunningham

My 7-year-old summed up Pacific Science Center’s new exhibition, “Imaginate,” with “I love this!” He was joyfully dancing to a musical jam of his own creation, which he made by layering recorded sounds, music samples and looped beats with the touch of multicolored lights in the Sound Tunnel. 

One of the signs at the exhibit proclaims “Dream Design Create.” From the moment my excited, chattering children, ages 5, 7 and 9, opened the heavy doors to “Imaginate,” they were struck with awe and the power to create. 

Underlying all of the science is a layer of global awareness. We learned that one in six people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water as we viewed the LifeStraw – a portable water filter that removes bacteria and parasites – part of Innovation Around the World. In the Materials Playground we viewed the Peanut Sheller and played with the Hippo Water Roller, which makes is easier to transport heavy barrels of water; inventions that started as creative ideas and went on to improve lives. 

Light Hearts in Concert, an art installation using electrocardiogram technology to produce a spectacular show of drum beats and lights that amplify your own beating heart, is a clear highlight of “Imaginate.” I was treated to a colorful concert of my family’s collective heartbeats. 

The kids soon moved on to a challenge called Shake Your Booty. The name itself is a winner. In order to test how well your “booty” is cushioned, you must choose from “pillows” made of various materials. After many giggles, we moved on to the tamer Dream It, Draw It, Do It section. An endless supply of craft items are provided to create whatever your child can imagine and glue together. We came away with a pipe cleaner flower, a popsicle stick mobile and burned, sticky fingers. Hot glue guns and children under the age of 8 aren’t a good mix in this section, unless they have careful assistance from an adult.  Luckily there are many guides standing by, offering help and answering questions. 

Where else but in the So You Think You Can Fly section can you see a grown man wearing giant wings, flapping and grinning from ear to ear? Or hear a mom yell to her child, “Flap faster, you’re going to take off!” The creative possibilities are endless at “Imaginate.” Creation is at your children’s fingertips as they interact with exhibits that stretch the limits of their imaginations, showing them all of the possibilities of their creative potential. 

My oldest was instantly drawn to the paper airplane station. He carefully folded his plane, threw it through the bright red hoops, and hit the bull’s eye from 20 feet away. My middle child was laughing his way through the creation of a face collage on a giant touch screen. By moving photos of noses, eyes and mouths, he created a new, crazy face over his own image. My youngest danced over to the colorful touch pads on the floor that lit with changing ocean scenes and blossoms. “Dream Big, Start Small” read the appropriate sign. 

After enjoying the exhibit for an hour, we decided to take a break, avoid meltdowns and walk over to the Seattle Center’s Armory building for lunch. We returned with renewed energy and enthusiasm for exploring kinetic friction in action in the Friction Zone. Sending wooden sliders with varying base materials down a six-foot slide was an exciting race that brought out the competitive spirit in all of us.  

Next we learned how to say “Go Mariners!” in six different languages through a modern voice synthesizer, blasted heat at the memory metal Nitinol, and created our own stop-motion animated film.  

Because my children are young, I was glad that my husband joined us on this adventure. Many of the exhibits began with him saying, “Here’s what this is about guys” before they dove into the experiment. 

Seeing all of “Imaginate” will take your family approximately two hours. If your children are younger than 10, you may choose to give them the freedom to interact and experiment on their own and see what they create and discover, or read to them about all of the exhibits to give them a thorough understanding of the science behind the fun.  You can’t go wrong in a room filled with this much opportunity to explore. 

To a child, the creative possibilities in life are always endless. As adults, we need to be reminded of this. Visit “Imaginate” and be inspired.

Photos by Tonya J. Cunningham.

(2) Comment(s)

Love this article!! Great job smile

Posted by Susang on Jun 10, 2013

What a great description of an exciting adventure!

Posted by Marvin Eckfeldt on Jun 11, 2013

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If You Go...

Where: Pacific Science Center, 200 2nd Ave. N.E., Seattle. 

When: “Imaginate” is on exhibition now through Sept. 2. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Cost: “Imaginate” is included with the price of admission: $16 adults, $14 seniors, $11 youth ages 6 to 15, $9 kids ages 3 to 5; free for kids younger than 3. 

Contact: 206-443-2001, www.pacificsciencecenter.org.

NASA’s “Destination: Station” Now Open

NASA's "Destination: Station," a multi-media exhibit that immerses guests in the story of the International Space Station, ia now open at Pacific Science Center and runs through Sept. 2. Families can learn about the 24/7/365 space-based research that brings results down to Earth to play a role in our lives. You'll also learn how the space station operates as a result of a peaceful international partnership of five space agencies representing 15 countries.

The exhibit is designed for all ages and includes hands-on activities, imagery and audio and visual technology to connect you with your place in space, communicating the real and potential impacts of the space station on our everyday lives. Be sure to catch these free events associated with the exhibit:

Tuesday, June 11: Sessions with a Scientist: Space Bugs, Seattle Children’s Museum, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., with Space Station Scientist Dr. Tara Ruttley.

Wednesday, June 12: Space & Beyond: Make Me an ISS Astronaut!, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Seattle Children’s Museum.

Thursday, June 13Space Station Story Time, Shoreline Public Library, 2-3 p.m., with NASA Public Affairs Officer Josh Byerly.

Saturday, June 15Afternoon with Astronaut Mike Foreman, Future of Flight: Aviation Center & Boeing Tour, 1-2:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 16Afternoon with Astronaut Mike Foreman, Museum of Flight, 1:30-3 p.m.

To learn more about these events, visit www.nasa.gov/destinationstation.