Saturday, April 19, 2014

COSI - The Center of Science and Industry

COSI, the Center of Science and Industry is a #1 nationally ranked science museum, right here in Columbus (Parent Magazine gave COSI this #1 rating in 2008). I first visited COSI on a field trip with my 6th grade class. I don't remember everything about the trip, but I know we had a blast! We watched an IMAX film about the Blue Angels and checked out COSI's various exhibits. The one I remember the most was the exhibit, Progress, which is still at COSI today. When I was a 6th grader I thought the 1898 version of the town was really cool, even though my friends and I spent most of our time in the 1962 side, making our own news broadcast and getting our picture taken at the vintage gas station. It was an exciting trip to Columbus for a bunch of small town kids!

Since moving to Columbus, Kenneth and I have visited COSI on a few different occasions. My sister and her best friends, Betsy and Bethany, checked out the exhibit, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, in 2010. They said it was awesome! This is how my sister described the exhibition: 

When you entered the exhibition space, you were handed a passenger card. This contained information such as the name, age, size of traveling party, and reason for traveling on the Titanic. My card was Leila Meyer, a mid 20-year old woman who was traveling to attend her father's funeral (I could only remember the name because it said that I was the daughter of Andrew Saks - founder of Saks Fifth Avenue). I can't remember much of the exhibit, but at the time I thought it was impressive and very fascinating. 

Near the end, the exhibit included a large (man-made, I believe) piece of ice that you could touch to understand how cold an iceberg was. Groups of people would have contests to see how long they could keep their hand on the ice! When you got close to the ice, you could see a few vague hand-prints from people that placed their hand where someone else had to continue melting the ice. At the end, there was a list of survivors and you could check it against your card to see if "you" survived. It might seem a bit morbid, but it was interesting to see some people had survived that were not upper class! Either Betsy or Bethany was a lower-class woman, Rhoda Mary Abbott, traveling with her two sons. They were making the trip because the two boys were homesick (They lived in the US when their parents were together, however upon separation, the mother moved back to England with the boys). As the ship was sinking, the mother and sons jumped from the boat hoping to make it to a life boat. The mother made it to a nearby boat, but, sadly, the boys were lost at sea. 

Overall, it was a great experience and fascinating to see artifacts and hear the various stories of the actual Titanic instead of the Hollywood version. 

I was able to check out the IMAX screen last summer when I saw Flight of the Butterflies (read my review here).  On our most recent visit, Kenneth and went and saw The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes for Kenneth's birthday. Read my review of the Sherlock exhibition here.

Whenever Kenneth and I visit COSI, we always make sure to visit our favorites out of the permanent exhibits. This is a run-down of a few of our favorites and some of the special exhibitions we've been able to explore!


We had a lot of fun trying to solve the mystery of The Valley of the Unknown in Adventure. This interactive exhibit takes visitors to a remote tropical island to finish the Explorers Society's quest. At Base Camp you are given an introduction to the island and the mysterious statues that reside there. A member of the Explorers Society, Miss Eva Snodgrass, discovered that the statues can be brought to life! With this information and a small workbook, visitors explore the island and try to unlock the Observatory of Knowledge. Kenneth and I felt a bit old for this exhibit, but it was still fun! I definitely recommend this exhibit for kids and their parents!


We always visit Ocean! It's our favorite of all of COSI's permanent exhibits. The dark room and glowing blue, yellow, purple and pink lights remind me of the movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire. In the center of the room there is a towering statue of  the Greek god, Poseidon. Surrounding Poseidon are statues of fish and water cannons, which children (and adults!) can play with. The last time we visited we got splashed by a couple of little kids who figured out how to bounce the water cannons just right to get people around them, but not themselves, wet! In addition to the water cannons, there is also a wave tank and three water bells. All of these interactives demonstrate different properties of water in a much more fun way that reading about it in a textbook!


Kenneth enjoys COSI's Life exhibit much more than I do. It makes sense though, he's going to be a doctor in a few weeks (we're excited!) and I'm squeamish when it comes to blood and have a needle phobia. The exhibit Life focuses on the body, mind and spirit so there are some areas that I'm comfortable with. The tests to see how strong you are and the artificial imaging software that ages a picture of you are both really cool! I also enjoy watching the reactions of other visitors in this exhibit, some of them are as freaked out as I am. Life also features Labs in Life, a small research laboratory where Ohio State Researchers work in three visible lab rooms.


One of my favorite exhibits is still Progress! I love learning about history and genealogy - it's so cool to think about how my ancestors might have lived. In Progress one can explore the same American street in two different years: 1898 and 1962. This exhibit set-up easily shows the amazing ways technology has transformed how we live and go about our daily lives. In 1898 Progess, you can check out a telegraph, learn about nineteenth century games and sit in a carriage. If you go around the corner of Hope Street and Fear Street to 1962 Progress you can check out a phone booth, learn about television broadcasting and check out a 1960s gas station and car. 


Gadgets is a fun exhibit! It has a lot of different interactive games that explore physics. This exhibit space is always full of kids playing with lasers, pulleys and magnets. My favorite part of Gadgets are the robots, Rivet and Bolt! These guys do a synchronized disco dance at the touch of a button - check out this video of them from RobotWorx Marion below!

Energy Explorers

In this new exhibit you choose an "Energy Explorer" to play as you go through the exhibit and learn about recycling, conserving energy and how to make more eco-friendly choices. The lifestyle, family size and job affects the amount of energy he or she uses, but you can help your character choose more sustainable options. I thought the coolest part of this exhibit is near the end where there is a display showing new technologies that are being developed to conserve energy - there are some amazing projects in the works!

We saw a lot of different art displays on our most recent trip to COSI. My favorite by far were the giant recycled butterflies created by Columbus artist, Michelle Stitzlein - they're amazing!

We also saw gorgeous and fascinating photos from Hungry Planet: What The World Eats and cool drawings by Rube Goldberg.

Check out all of my photos from our visit to COSI last month in the slideshow below. What's your favorite exhibit at COSI (permanent or travelling)?