Monthly on Friday, Tonya from The Traveling Praters shares a Field Trip. Please visit Tonya’s website to learn more about Field Trip Friday! I have always enjoyed reading about the Prater family adventures. I have been waiting for a really cool trip to share with my readers and with Tonya. This week provided the perfect opportunity!
This week, Angie from Petra School and Shiloh Home School (that would be us!) were able to spend a few hours at OMSI | Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. This place never gets old with rotating exhibits, several science labs, OMNIMax, Planetarium, Submarine and the very fun Turbine Science Hall.
Note: The colors are MUCH more vibrant in person. I just happen to filter mine to accentuate the reds during editing.
We visited OMSI on Wednesday. One difference I noted between summer and school seasons is the availability of the labs. Because of the many summer camps OMSI holds, a majority of the labs were closed to the general public. My children enjoy visiting while school is in session because they essentially have the place to themselves!
The Turbine Hall is one of our favorite places to visit. In the hall kids can be chemists, astronauts, physicists, engineers, builders, dreamers, planners…whatever you can dream! It’s a complete hands-on environment just made to appeal to the senses. There is something for every age in this area. This is the main portion of the Museum. It does not ever change. It includes the computer lab, physics lab, chemistry lab and holography lab. It is also the location of the lunch room.
One of the fun displays in the hall is the Air Rockets. I love how Angie’s hair flies as her rocket flies.
If you want a hands-on Physics experience, visit the lab. The kids spend on average 20-40 minutes here each time we visit. I guess experiments never get old!
One of the displays is the earthquake house. It is set up to simulate a mild or major earthquake and gives the kids a chance to practice their earthquake safety habits. Warning: You will have the song singing in your head for days!
One of the most popular displays: the water area! Here you can make your own sailboats, engineer a water system for a village and create your own water maze. Area is great. No places for parents to sit while little ones play and it does smell of chlorine.
This working elevator goes up 3 stories, although you can only visit 2 of the stories. It’s a fun ride especially for little ones who love elevators.
Each time I go to OMSI I find something new. I never saw this plane here before. I’m told it’s been there…just never saw it.
Paper Airplanes are ALWAYS good for learning the concepts of air dynamics. Tip: Take your plane to the 2nd story and fly them from there. See who can get their plane to fly the farthest.
The main staircase going up to the 2nd level in the hall. There are many hands-on displays on the 2nd level.
For the little ones: The Inventor’s Ball Room is the place to be! So much fun. You’ll spend at least 45 minutes to an hour here!
On the upper level in the Life Sciences area is my personal favorite. This is a display of human development in the womb from conception to week 32. It is graphic. These are actual fetuses donated after natural cause or accidental deaths. The kids find it “gross” but fascinating at the same time. It was really neat this time, because Auntie is pregnant and we enjoyed seeing just how big the baby is right now. WARNING: Before this display is an anatomically correct display of the human reproductive systems. The other side of this display is the stages of labor. I personally have no problems with my children being exposed to this side of our humanity, but I know some very conservative families may want to avoid this portion of life sciences all together.
A big portion of the life sciences area are interactive displays promoting good health and nutrition. I really love this part of OMSI and plan to utilize it for our health lessons this year.
No visit to OMSI is complete without visiting the reptile room. Here you can see bugs, rats, frogs, snakes, lizards and various other creepy crawly critters! Here my niece is holding a walking stick bug!
When the daughter of a geologist visits, you have to look at the rock display!
A part of the museum that I didn’t know existed. The Watershed & Paleontology Labs. The watershed lab was closed, but the paleontology lab was open. They are working on a Triceratops fossil right now. Here the girls are listening to the curator explain about the skull of the Triceratops.
OMSI is located south of downtown Portland along the east bank of the Willamette River; nestled near the Hawthorne Bridge in the heart of East side’s industrial building district. The exact address is 1945 SE Water Ave., Portland, OR 97214-3354 or if you want to be really precise, 45° 30′ 36″ north latitude, 122° 39′ 54″ west longitude.
How much does it cost to visit OMSI?
Ticket prices are $12 adults, $9 Youth (3-13), $9 Senior (63+), FREE for members. Our family would cost $51 for a single trip. This does not include the cost of parking or any additional exhibit fees.
The additional fees currently are:
- Parking – $3, Free for Members
- Narnia Exhibit Fee – $2 per person, FREE for members. Note: If you use a ASTC pass from another science museum, you will still have to pay the $2. The exhibit is free ONLY for OMSI members.
- Kendall Planetarium – $5.75 for general admission, members receive $1 off
- Omnimax Dome Theater – $5.75 (matinee), members receive $1 off. Evening movies are $7.50, no discounts.
- USS Blueback Submarine Tour – $5.75 admission
- Motion Simulator – $5.00, members receive $1 off
They do offer some discounted packages:
- Adventure Combo Pack: $16 adults, $13 Youth and Senior. This package includes museum admission and one OMNIMAX Move OR Kendall Planetarium Show.
- Museum Combo Pack: $21 adults, $17 Youth and Senior. This package includes museum admission, one OMNIMAX movie, and your choice of planetarium show or submarine tour.
Another option for a low-cost OMSI visit is to watch for $2 Sundays. These are held on the first Sunday of the month. The next date is August 7, 2011. I believe this is available for everyone, not just local citizens.
What are the benefits of Membership and what does it cost?
We have been members of OMSI for 3 years now. There are several reasons we chose membership. The number one reason was the cost of membership vs. the cost of paying for every visit.
- Membership starts at $75 up to $500 per year. We opted for the FRIENDS level which costs $140 per year. This gives us 2 named adults, 8 children (so we can take the kid’s friends) AND 2 guests per visit. Includes 8 FREE Omnimax or Submarine Tickets and UNLIMITED FREE Planetarium matinees. I have used this at least 3 times this year and been able to take friends for free. We love the planetarium matinees. And it’s nice to be able to visit at least one OMNIMAX show a year.
- OMSI participates in the ASTC Travel Passport Program. This gives us access to over 290 museums around the country! We cannot use it for the Evergreen Museum in McMinnville, but can use it for AC Gilbert House in Salem. (They have a special agreement).
- Savings on science camps and classes. I personally used this when I attended a CPR class at OMSI.
- 10% discount in the OMSI store and cafes.
- They offer a discount club which features some local businesses.
To see the current costs of membership, visit OMSI’s website.
What about food?
They do have a cafeteria. It has a variety of food options. However, it’s like every public attraction cafe, not cheap.
The alternative is to bring your own lunches. You can store them in lockers, or your car, and then eat lunch in the Turbine Hall Lunch room. You cannot take your lunch into the cafeteria.
You will WANT to bring your own water. The bottle water is $2.25 for a 20 oz. bottle.
OMSI is a big recycler, so be sure you recycle whatever you can. There are signs above the bins to help you.
When is OMSI open?
OMSI is open year round with seasonal hours. During the summer (6/18 to Labor day) the hours are 9:30 am to 7:00 pm.
Don’t want to drive your car there? Take Trimet!
I hope you enjoyed learning about one of our favorite field trip places in Portland. I hope to be able to share more of our great town with you in the future.