Thwump. The muffled thud of the baseball hitting the backstop, a routine, almost constant noise on the Great Lakes Science Center’s (GLSC) top floor, was quickly swallowed up by the sounds of laughing, talking and learning about science. With innocent glee, adults and children alike lined up to have their fastball clocked by a radar gun at one of the museum’s many exhibits. The GLSC, like all good museums, is able to engage visitors of all ages by mixing interactive installations with unique traditional exhibits.
Indeed, attracting a diverse range of visitors in different stages of life from different backgrounds is an important goal of the center.
“We want all guests to learn something and enjoy their experience, which is why we create immersive learning opportunities through hands-on experiments, fun science demonstrations and personalized exhibit interpretation by trained educators,” said GLSC’s VP of Operations Amanda Taunt. “We pride ourselves on being the perfect destination for anyone curious about science.”
Taunt further explained that patronage from college students is also an important component of the museum.
“College students visiting GLSC is very important to us and it is indeed something we think about,” said Taunt.
One of the reasons the center pays close attention to college students is because museum officials believe the center can play an important role in a college student’s education and cultural experience while in Cleveland.
“Visiting the GLSC can inspire college students to pursue a STEM career they may not have considered, or deepen their interest in a field they are already pursuing,” said Taunt. “The science center can help expand a student’s worldview by showing them the value and influence of science and help spark their curiosity.”
The center boasts such a wide variety of unique exhibits that each visitor, regardless of their age or stage in life, is bound to find something that interests or inspires them.
For instance, the NASA Glenn Visitor Center at GLSC is one of only 11 NASA Visitor Centers in the country (The next closest NASA Visitor Center to Cleveland is in Maryland.) The GLSC’s NASA Glenn Visitor Center houses many significant artifacts from the Space Age, including a command module from the Apollo program and a Centaur rocket. The NASA Glenn Visitor Center also includes a display detailing the daily experience of astronauts living on the International Space Station.
Additionally, the top floor of the museum, the home of the pitching speed exhibit, possesses dozens of hands-on, interactive activities. This floor, called the Science Phenomena floor, allows visitors to explore the principles of physics studied at the collegiate level. There are exhibits about light waves, sound waves, electricity, light diffraction and chaotic motion, each of them interactive and entertaining.
With over 250,000-square feet of exhibit space and a DOME Theater that shows 45-minute science documentaries, the GLSC is certainly worth a day trip. Currently, the GLSC is operating according to its fall and winter hours, meaning the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Starting in May, the museum will also be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and the Steamship William G. Mather, a restored 618-foot flat deck bulk freighter built in 1925 that’s docked behind the museum, will, once again, be ready for visitors to explore during select times. With their college ID, students receive a $1 discount off of adult admission prices at the GLSC.