A Student Tour To Chicago

By: Ann Knapp

One of the most popular museums in the world is the Museum of Science and Industry, a highlight of any student visit to Chicago.

The museum, created as a vehicle for public science education , is unique in that it was one of the first ever to involve industry in its exhibits.

One of the key initiators of the concept was Julius Rosenwald, chairman of Sears Roebuck & Company, who in 1911 brought forward the idea of a museum for "industrial enlightenment." Rosenwald, who had visited a museum of this type in Germany, enlisted the aid of other business leaders. Twenty-two years later, in 1933, the Museum of Science and Industry, housed in the restored Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, opened to the public. It remains the largest science museum of its type in the western hemisphere which is housed in a single building.

Central to the interest and success of the museum is its hands-on exhibits (it has more than 800 in total) with more than 2,000 interactive displays, and a collection of more than 50,000 artifacts.

Highlights of the museum include a working coal-mine shaft elevator from 1933, a WWII U-505 German submarine that visitors can walk through, a center on virtual reality and computer imaging, a baby chick hatchery, an F-14 flight simulator, a restored Pioneer Zephyr train, and an Omnimax Theater.

Groups visiting the Museum of Science and Industry take advantage of the numerous demonstrations. Students and teachers experiencing the working coal-mine shaft elevator will learn about the coal industry in America, which continues to remain an important part of the U.S. economy. Fascinating facts are revealed to give students a new appreciation of that importance.

The German U-Boat exhibit came to be after the vessel was disabled and captured off the west coast of Africa in June 1944. It remains the only U-Boat in the United States and serves as a memorial to the 55,000 American sailors who lost their lives on the high seas during World War II.

In the IMAGING: Tools of Science feature, a series of exhibits illustrate the use of computer-based imaging technology in the fields of medicine, science, law enforcement and entertainment.

IMAGING: The Tools of Science encompasses more than 7,000 square feet of exhibit area and includes a 600-square-foot hands-on Mystery Lab space for use by school groups and museum visitors.

In the Thermographic Portal, visitors can stand in front of an infrared camera and see how computer imaging detects and displays the warm and cool areas of the body. Not far away, they are also invited to add their faces to the computer's database and witness how computers can color, mix and contort their facial features. There are also a variety of hands-on imaging activities that explore medical technology. The Mediscan unit shows how modern imaging technology helps diagnose and 'treat' patients. The Be a Brain Surgeon unit will have students taking turns "diagnosing" a patient's brain tumor and eradicating it using computer-aided radiosurgery.

The IMAGING exhibit's Mystery Lab helps solve mysteries by applying imaging technology to forensic science. School groups can participate in the Mystery at the Museum Learning Lab by making advance reservations with the museum's education department.

Several other displays and exhibits make up the Museum of Science and Industry. They include Animated Industrial Gears, originally on display at the Century of Progress Exhibition held in Chicago in 1933, Genetics: Decoding Life, the Chick Hatchery, the Apollo 8 Command Module among others.

One of the most popular museums in the world is the Museum of Science and Industry, a highlight of any student visit to Chicago.

The museum, created as a vehicle for public science education , is unique in that it was one of the first ever to involve industry in its exhibits.

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