Psyched on science: Spending time at the Franklin Institute

Learn about how the brain is always changing at the Franklin Institute (photo courtesy of Colin M. Lenton)

Good old Benjamin Franklin is recognized as one of the Founding Fathers of our nation. But aside from being a part of our nation’s foundation, he was also an inventor, writer, and scientist. With the Franklin Institute located next to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, city visitors and residents can check out this massive building dedicated totally to science. Tip your hat to the whiz kids as you look at these current and permanent exhibits.  

On June 14, the Franklin Institute opened its newest permanent exhibition, Your Brain, located on the second floor. Visitors can get an in-depth look at all things brainy as they travel through this exhibit that features an interactive neural network that is triggered by your footsteps. Follow a visual pathway of your brain, test your noggin with illusions, and see why your brain is always changing.

Their current exhibit 101 Inventions That Changed the World runs through Monday, Sept. 1, and visitors can travel back in time and discover how inventions such as Velcro changed the world and why it is used in many clothing items and space suits. After you build up your inspiration during this exhibit, use your smarts to create the next great item that will revolutionize modern life.

Barnum & Bailey can take a seat for this one. The Circus! Science Under the Big Top exhibit takes viewers on a trip inside and outside the physics of the maneuvers performed by acrobats, sword swallowers, and other incredible acts that you'd expect at a circus. Think you have the balance skills to join the Flying Wallendas stunt preformers? Test your steadiness on a tightrope and practice flips like a trapeze artist. This is on display through Monday, Sept. 1.

Swim through 50 photos provided by National Geographic and photographer Brian Skerry during the Ocean Soul exhibit. Viewers will get a special look at underwater life and the wonders of the ocean. This exhibit is currently on view until this December.

Although the above displays are the freshest of the bunch, here are some permanent exhibits you do not want miss out on:

Not having an exhibit on electricity would be a slap in the face to Benjamin Franklin, but the institute does and it’s full of striking information all geared toward Franklin’s observations. With over four features including Benjamin Franklin’s lightning rod, guests can get a hands-on experience and discover the excitement of electricity just like he did.

Being a professional in a sport takes talent, however, skill isn’t the only thing behind a curve ball or that perfect spin in the air from a figure skater: there’s science behind it. At the Sports Challenge exhibit, test your balance on simulators and get a better understanding on what roles science play in sports.

Feel the beat! Listen to the rhythm of the heart at the Giant Heart exhibit, where guests will learn about the functionalities and importance of this special organ. Get an exclusive look at the inside of a heart as you climb into a giant structure, learn about how much blood is in the body through open surgery, and get a better appreciation for the organ.

The Franklin Institute is suited for all ages, but at the Kids Science exhibit, children in grades pre-K through second grade get a science zone created specifically for them. Your little scientists will have a blast as they explore this interactive zone where they can climb to the top of a lighthouse, experiment with bubbles, and save the world from a villain who plans to destroy earth.

The Franklin Institute is open daily from 9:30 a.m. through 7 p.m.