The Montshire Museum of Science is an interactive science center in Norwich, Vermont, with more than 150 hands-on exhibits relating to the natural and physical sciences, ecology, and technology. Outdoors, visitors can explore nature trails and exhibits on wind, water, and sound in David Goudy Science Park. Visiting exhibitions, educational programs, and special events are offered throughout the year.
Montshire’s New Spring Exhibition Explores the Science Behind Air
On Saturday, April 14, the Montshire Museum of Science will open Air Works — a special Montshire-created exhibition that examines the properties of air and explores the science behind controlling and using this invisible substance in our everyday lives.
Air Works will feature interactive exhibits and specially-designed tinkering and making activities that will help flex engineering muscles, strengthen the understanding of core scientific concepts, and spark the imaginations of all ages.
Each experience in this featured exhibition has been thoughtfully and purposefully developed to meet clear educational objectives and to provide opportunities for inquiry-based learning. Through Air Works, visitors will:
- Apply engineering concepts and creative skills to design objects that utilize air.
- Use multiple senses to do science.
- Engage in a collaborative and social process to investigate air science.
- Experience moments of reflection and discovery.
“Air exhibits have been a part of the Montshire experience since its beginning,” explains Director of Exhibits Bob Raiselis. “This new exhibition will build upon the exhibits we’ve featured and what we’ve learned from them about creating exciting experiences and engaging scientific explorations on how air moves and how its movement affects us.”
Air Works will offer an array of hands-on learning experiences that will consist of ten exhibits and four different tinkering activities. While the exhibits will include some classic Montshire favorites, such as Sailboats, it will have numerous newly created hands-on experiences.
For example, visitors can:
- Send objects through a two-story, three-dimensional maze by controlling the flow of air from one location to another.
- Experiment with air lift by testing items of varying materials and weights on a hover table.
- Examine cause and effect through inflation and deflation by using an air-powered chain reaction machine.
- Elevate the simple activity of making paper airplane to an intensive science project. The paper airplane station will provide builders a selection of designs to recreate, a runway to test the dynamics and capabilities of their finished products, and even a motorized airplane launcher.
The Museum collaborated with educator Becky Lindsay and artist Leonard Solomon to create two extraordinary experiences in this exhibition. Lindsay, the Creative Director of the educational organization MindSplash, specially customized their signature A-Mazing Airways exhibit for the Montshire. This whimsical piece is a pneumatic air system that combines air tubes, high-performance air systems, interactive diverter boxes, and soaring air pathways of all shapes and sizes for a mesmerizing learning experience. Musician and inventor Solomon created an air-operated Bottle Organ to provide a memorable and enchanting lesson on the use of air in making music.
Additionally, the Museum will install new artwork in the atrium, a place long held by a large-scale model of a monarch butterfly. This new air-related sculpture will serve as a reminder of both the practical and playful qualities of air.
Made possible by donors to the David Goudy Discovery Fund, Air Works is a new chapter in the Montshire’s ongoing exploration with air. By exploring the combination of hands-on exhibits and tinkering activities, visitors will find unique and fun ways to connect scientific ideas with everyday life.
The Opening Day of Air Works (Saturday, April 14) will offer activities around the Museum in celebration of the new exhibition. From the experiments in the Science Discovery Lab to the lessons in the Classroom, it will be a day full of learning and exploration. On Friday, April 13, Montshire Unleashed, the museum’s evening for adults, will host an opening night preview, giving grown-ups a chance to engage with the new exhibits on the eve of the exhibition opening.