Playing Around: Engineering and Toys

A fun and different way to learn about the science and technology of something we all love — TOYS!

Playing Around: Engineering and Toys feeds the imagination, engages the senses, and introduces concepts in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through the creative and entertaining act of play.

This special exhibition consists of three components that explain and demonstrate engineering in distinct ways. 

- Toys: The Inside Story - Get a close look at the inner workings and simple mechanisms commonly found inside childhood favorites. Find out just what makes Jack jump out of his box, learn how Hokey Pokey Elmo wiggles and dances, see how pulleys and wires help you etch that sketch, and discover the inside story of toys.

- Big Blue Blocks - Shape your surroundings and create your own structures through special construction blocks. Designed by an architect, these blocks include familiar rectangular pieces, as well as shapes with holes and chutes, rods, balls, and many more. Let your creative side shine as you produce your own inventions, environments, and activities.

- Tinkering with Tinker Toys - Explore design and engineering as you construct, experiment, and realize your own amazing creations with this classic toy. Build tall towers, complex structures, your own toy idea, or anything else your imagination conceives.

Solve It! Puzzles, Math, & Problem-Solving

Test your problem-solving skills with puzzles and games in a new exhibition, now on view.

Solve-It! exhibition logo

Energize your brain and spark your imagination as you quest to solve hands-on puzzles and games. Solve It! empowers and encourages you to test your perseverance and problem-solving skills as you hunt for solutions using geometry, patterns, and math.

Visitors Assembling a Wooden Puzzle

A number of important math process skills such as making sense of problems and persevering in solving them, using abstract and quantitative reasoning, are all applied to solving puzzles and games. 

Puzzles and games are learning tools that present real challenges which naturally inspire the use of math skills. The puzzle and game exhibits in Solve It! are grouped together by type of challenge and strategy for solving the puzzle. Different levels of challenge provide an entry point for beginners as well as a real mental workout for experts.

Caution: The puzzles and games in this exhibition can be habit forming!

The creation of the new Solve It! exhibition is made possible in part by donors to the David Goudy Discovery Fund.

 

 

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Ripple Effect

As part of the Montshire's 40th anniversary, the Montshire Museum of Science commissioned Vermont artist and master stoneworker Dan Snow to create a sculpture to transform the entryway of the Museum. This exciting new sculpture is now open to view and for exploration by Museum visitors.

Dan Snow is an internationally-recognized artist. From the practical to the fantastic, Snow’s works in stone combine a contemporary vision with old−world techniques and traditions to create environmental art.

water dropletThe sculpture, titled Ripple Effect, encapsulates the Montshire’s mission of engagement and discovery — signaling to visitors the excitement they will find inside the Museum and across its 100 acres, as well as showcasing the Montshire’s commitment to art and science, and the important connections between them. The 1,000-square-foot sculpture was created using thirty tons of Vermont and New Hampshire stone, and is an interactive representation of the intersection of the waves formed by drops of water into a pond—at an enormous scale, and rendered in individually-shaped stones and stainless steel.

“I believe the sight of a new dry stone construction on the land is a sign of a healthy community,” says Snow. “When loose stone is collected and arranged, conversations take place.” Artist Dan Snow

Museum visitors were able to watch Snow create the piece over the course of several months in the summer of 2016, stone by stone. The completed artwork is now open for contemplation and exploration by Museum visitors, and was created with the intention that it could be walked upon and experienced kinesthetically. A section of it is designed to give visitors who use wheelchairs the ability to be in the center of the sculpture, among the ripples.

This sculpture was made possible by donors to the David Goudy Discovery Fund.

In the news: Here in Hanover magazine ran a feature about the artist and the new sculpture in their August, 2016 issue. View it here.

Discovering the Natural World

Learn to identify and classify animal skeletons, go on an animal scavenger hunt, and practice the techniques scientists use to learn about nature in a new exhibition, now on view.

Featuring real tools of scientific research, Discovering the Natural World makes learning about living plants and animals an interactive process that will surprise and delight. Get curious as you explore interconnected exhibits that help you discover your inner scientist.  

Visitors studying a skull“The Montshire views science as an active process, which can be learned and applied,” says Sherlock Terry, Montshire’s Assistant Exhibits Director. “Activities in this exhibition allow you to use and practice the skills that scientists use, like observation, classification, and measurement.”  

Discovering the Natural World features:

Assemble a Skeleton — Learn about wildlife as you examine animal skeletons. Identify and classify the bones of a beaver. Learn about animal anatomy and compare skeletons of different animals, including fish, frogs, bats, and birds.

Microscope Station— Through the magnification of seeds, bones, insects, plants, feathers, and scales discover how much more you can see!

Discovering the Natural World exhibition logoSolve a Botanical Mystery — Solve four botanical mysteries and become a full-fledged botanical detective! While you solve the mysteries, learn about plant characteristics, and how these help botanists make identifications in the field.

Animal Scavenger Hunt—Locate animals displayed throughout the exhibition by using careful observation, critical thinking, and detailed recording of information.

Creation of the Discovering the Natural World exhibition at the Montshire is made possible in part by donors to the David Goudy Discovery Fund.

Making Music: The Science of Musical Instruments

Discover the science and the art behind making and playing musical instruments.

Making Music: The Science of Musical Instruments explores how musical instruments are created and how they are played. Be amazed as you explore 2,500 square-feet of interactive exhibits showcasing 34 different musical instruments—14 of which you can play, including a double bass, a Theremin, and a drum made out of a recycled propane tank. Make an air instrument and experiment with the different sounds of a pipe organ. Play in a band with your friends—choosing a guitar, a drum set, or a keyboard—and experience how musicians create music together. Experiment with the sound that a modular synthesizer makes.

With more than 30 demonstration videos and 28 hands-on experiences learn how musical instruments, from a wooden flute to an electronic synthesizer, use the principles of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to create their sounds. Find out what happens when a musician blows air into a flute, feel how the sounds of a stringed instrument are made, and discover how can you make different sounds with a single drum. 

Investigate the relationship between key instrument design variations, the sounds produced, and hear stories of the people who make and play musical instruments. 

You will find sections on string instruments, percussion, air instruments, and electronic instruments. Each section includes stories of the people who make and play these instruments, as well as opportunities to experiment with the ideas and science behind the instruments themselves. 

Making Music inspires your creativity while you explore the science of musical instrument design.

Making Music: The Science of Musical Instruments exhibition was created by the exhibits and education staff of the Montshire Museum of Science.  

For information about our prototyping and development process, visit Making Music: Creating the Exhibition.

Creation of the Making Music exhibition was made possible by donors to the David Goudy Discovery Fund. Programming for the Making Music exhibition is made possible with support from Clyde Watson & Dennis Devlin.

The Light Around Us: Colors, Reflections, and Invisible Energy

Explore light and color using prisms, lenses, and mirrors.

Light is everywhere in our world—it is both obvious and mysterious. But what exactly are the properties of light?

The Light Around Us: Color, Reflections, and Invisible Energy explores both the physics of light and how we see it. Visitors will have the opportunity to experiment with color, shadows, prisms, and the light beyond the rainbow.

Light carries information from the world to our eyes and brains. Seeing colors and shapes is second nature to us, yet light is a perplexing phenomenon when we study it more closely. The seven interactive exhibits that make up The Light Around Us exhibition demonstrate some of the common properties of light, such as absorption, reflection, refraction, and diffraction. Visitors can bend and bounce light rays using lenses and mirrors, block or change the color of everyday objects, separate white light into colors, and create shadows of overlapping color.

The Light Around Us also explores light beyond the visible spectrum, such as ultraviolet light, and how this light energy can affect our health.

We’re excited about how these new exhibits will allow visitors to interact with properties of light that they may know about but have never had a chance to manipulate” commented Exhibits Director Bob Raiselis. “Being able to see a prism breaking white light into a rainbow, bouncing beams of light off both straight and curved mirrors, observing light energy made visible – these are powerful experiences in helping visitors to understand the light that surrounds us.”

The Light Around Us: Color, Reflections, and Invisible Energy exhibition was created by the Montshire Museum with support from the National Institutes of Health. 

Making Music: Selected Exhibits

View select pieces from the popular exhibition Making Music: The Science of Musical Instruments. Making Music explores how musical instruments are created and how they’re played.

Explore these interactive exhibits, showcasing different musical instruments. Experiment with the sounds of a synthesizer. Create a dreamy melody with a Theremin. Slap pick, or strum a bass. Pluck or bow a cello.  

Investigate the relationship between key instrument design variations and the unique sounds that each produces. Making Music inspires creativity while exploring the science of musical instrument design.

First floor, on view through August, 2018
 

Bubbles: Science in Soap

Bubbles: Science in Soap is a completely new and re-imagined exhibition that incorporates pure experimentation, hands-on learning, and a touch of whimsy for adults and children.

Visitors delight in experimenting with surface tension, concocting new ways to create a bubble, crafting a foam sculpture, and injecting a bubble with mist. 

The Bubbles: Science in Soap exhibition includes:

Foam Fountains—Feel, scoop, hold, and form bubble foams. 

Three foam stations encourage visitors to compare different-sized foams. The foams are surprisingly light because they are made up almost entirely of air, similar to the bubbles in a bubble bath, bubbles of shaving cream, or the bubbles you see when you’re washing the dishes. Foam is a collection of bubbles. 

Bubble Domes—Experiment by filling bubbles with mist. 

Hold the tip of the tube in the bubble solution to make a dome, or dip the tip of the tube in the bubble solution, then raise it up to make a bubble at the end of the tube.

Try inserting air or mist into a bubble, create a bubble city, or make a bubble inside a bubble. The two stations with six hoses invite collaboration and experimentation with others. 

Giant Bubbles—Pull the hoop through the air to make a giant bubble. 

Gently lift the hoop to make a soap film, and see if you can form a bubble over your head, or create interesting and unique shapes. Very large bubbles are tricky to make because the soap film has to stretch extra far. Giant bubbles are actually shaped by the air around them, so they aren’t always round.

Sheet of Soap—Discover the force of surface tension while experimenting with large soap films. 

Pull the rope down to make a bubble sheet. As it’s stretched, notice the rainbow-like colors that indicate the changing thickness of the soap film. See what happens when you pop part of the sheet. The surface tension that holds the molecules of soap film together pulls the string outward when the film inside the loop is popped.

Bubble Booth—Get inside a three-sided bubble. 

Surround yourself in a massive bubble and try talking with a friend on the other side, or see if you can push your hand right through the bubble “walls.” Try blowing on the sheet to change the shape of the film. The soap film will stretch, making a rounded bubble. If you blow on it just right, you can cause the bubble to break free of the sheet.

Blow a Bubble—Use the blowers or your breath to make a bubble, or wave the custom-designed wands in the air. 

The two bubble stations each have three blower holes, providing plenty of opportunities to make lots and lots of bubbles and bubble clusters. Hold a wand over the blower to make a bubble. Use a wand with multiple holes to make bubble clusters. Experiment with different-shaped bubble wands and bubble-blowing techniques, and invent some bubble tricks of your own. 

Bubble Dropper—Enjoy a whimsical bubble-art machine that drops bowling-ball-sized bubbles from the ceiling. 

Wet your hands and try to catch the bubble as it drops, or gently blow on the falling bubble—aiming for the target. The projection screens show the turbulence of the bubble solution as a bubble is formed. 

Soap Shapes—Explore the math of soap film formation as wire frames demonstrate how bubbles have a geometry all their own. 

Use the three different wire frames to create soap film shapes that connect in surprising ways. Observe the shape of the soap film in each frame, and then pop a part of the film to see how the shape changes. Mathematicians use computers and formulas to predict the complex shapes of soap films. These unique shapes have inspired both architects and artists.

Bubble Recipe—Get information on how to mix the best bubble recipe and learn a little chemistry at the same time. 

Take a recipe card home with you to make perfect bubbles and continue experimenting on your own. Find more information about bubble chemistry and bubble solution recipes at soapbubble.wikia.com.

Bubble Art—Take a closer look at the large wall panels for an expanded view of bubbles. 

From bubble-inspired architecture and magic, to frozen bubbles, these images present a fresh take on the bubbles we see in our daily lives. 

Bubbles: Science in Soap was made possible by donors to the David Goudy Discovery Fund.

Andy’s Place

A special area scaled to size for visitors five and under and their caregivers

Andy's Place is devoted to exhibits for preschool-aged explorers and their caregivers, with unique sound, visual, and tactile exhibits, and its own special aquarium area. Its exhibits have been created specially for pre-school age children, and offer introductions to science, nature, and engineering concepts in a safe environment for younger visitors. Andy!s Place includes areas focusing on air and air movement, kinetic energy, light and sight, puzzles and matching games, interlocking shapes, and color mixing. Andy's Place also includes its own aquarium with colorful fish and a special “bear den.”

Aquarium Area

An up-close view of native fish, frogs, turtles, and other aquatic creatures

See fish, frogs, and turtles native to our region in our aquarium area. Each aquarium is representative of a different freshwater habitat. From toads to turtles, salmon to trout, view native species close-up.

Observation Tower

View the surrounding environment from high above the museum building

The Montshire's observation tower is an exhibit in and of itself – get a great long-distance view of the surrounding Museum property as well as the Connecticut River and New Hampshire to the east. High above Science Park, you get a view to the North, and can even see the Meadow and lagoon beyond Science Park.

Montshire Outside

Welcome to Montshire's 100-acre museum. Explore the varied landscape and several dozen exhibits in David Goudy Science Park and along our trails and Woodland Garden.

Among our many outdoor exhibits, you’ll find a Wind Wall that changes color with the breeze, a walking tour of the solar system, a Musical Fence created by artist Paul Matisse (grandson of the painter Henri Matisse), several miles of trails, and a woodland garden.

And, in warm weather, the Montshire runs the most intelligent water exhibits in New England, where hands-on exploration of hydraulics truly becomes an immersion experience!

David Goudy Science Park

David Goudy Science Park is a revolutionary concept in the world of science museums: using the outdoors as a living laboratory for visitors to experiment with science and appreciate the surrounding natural beauty. Science Park, which opened in 2002, features dozens of ingenious hands-on exhibits, including the Water Rill, Mist Fountain, and other educational — and fun — water play. The water exhibits in Science Park are open early May through mid-October. 

Hughes Pavilion—Purchase lunch or a snack, or enjoy your own picnic in the Hughes Pavilion overlooking Science Park. Food service is offered late June through late August. Restrooms are conveniently located near the Hughes Pavilion.

Woodland Garden

An outdoor exhibit showcasing native plants, trees, and flowers in a wooded setting.
The Montshire worked with New England Wildflower Society (NEWFS) to establish Woodland Garden in 2008 helps visitors identify and protect native New England wildflowers and shrubs.

Nature Trails

Appreciate the natural beauty of our 110-acre woodland setting on our nature trails. Our trailside exhibits explore the ecology of the Upper Connecticut Valley, from seed dispersal and migration patterns to geology, native plants, and land-use history. The Planet Walk even takes you on a scale-model journey from the Sun all the way out to dwarf planet Pluto!

“There is plenty for budding naturalists. An animal-song kiosk plays recordings of New England bird and insect noises, helping hikers recognize the real thing on nearby trails.” -The New York Times

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The Montshire’s outdoor exhibits can be reached from inside the Museum through the doors near the first floor elevator. An underpass leads from Science Park to walking trails and exhibits in the Quinn Nature Preserve.

Use of our outdoor exhibits and trails is free with Museum admission. Please stop by our admissions desk at the main entrance before exploring Montshire Outside.

Several outdoor exhibits and walking trails in the Quinn Nature Preserve are wheelchair accessible. Most indoor exhibit spaces and all restrooms are wheelchair accessible.

Except service dogs, pets are only permitted in designated parking lot areas, and only on leash or harness. Dogs are not permitted in Science Park or on the nature trails.

The Montshire’s outdoor exhibits have the same hours as the rest of the Museum. The Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, 363 days a year. (Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.) The gates to the Museum entrance close at 5:15 p.m.

Making Music - Creating the Exhibition

How does the Montshire create a brand-new exhibition? With the help of visitors, of course!

The Montshire created an entirely new exhibition about musical instruments and the science behind them during 2015 and 2016. In this exhibition visitors learn about the design and craft of musical instrument building, the science behind the materials, and the physics behind the sounds that those instruments create.

Creating Exhibits

Thanks to contributions to the new David Goudy Discovery Fund, the Montshire exhibits department has been creating new exhibits for the Museum’s permanent collection. The process of developing a new exhibition is complex and takes time, and requires the help of our visitors! Our goal is to create exhibits that are accessible and engaging for families, groups, and individuals.

We get ideas for new exhibits from suggestions from visitors, from science concepts, even from phenomena that we’ve noticed and want to explore. We select concepts that will interest visitors and that seem appropriate for interpretation as a hands-on exhibit. We research the science thoroughly, and then explore how to design an exhibit that will engage visitors in the topic. This concept phase can take several months.

At the heart of Montshire’s exhibit development process is prototyping and evaluation. We create a trial version of the exhibit, using temporary materials and labels, to test them with visitors. We try to find out if visitors will know what to do, if there are enough opportunities for open-ended experimentation, if the label is clear and easy to read. We make changes to the prototype based on what we learn and test again. This process continues until we’re sure we’ve got it right. 

For the work on the Making Music exhibition, the Museum’s largest gallery was transformed into a prototype showcase to test out exhibit ideas, and we invited visitors to be part of the process.

During a prototype showcase, a team from the Museum observes how people interact with each component of the exhibition. We watch visitors use the exhibit, we ask them questions about their experience, and we try out new versions of each prototype based on what we learn.

The final version of the exhibit is fabricated using long-lasting materials. An exhibit has to be able to withstand more wear and tear in a year than most consumer products do in a lifetime. We either build the entire exhibit in the Museum’s shop, or have components fabricated by outside specialists and assemble them here. Once everything has been assembled and tested, we install the exhibit for visitors to enjoy.

Watch for the opening of Making Music: The Science of Musical Instruments at the end of November 2016.

Making Music is made possible by donors to the David Goudy Discovery Fund. Thank you.

The Tinkering Loft

Through October 30. Create your own spinning top, craft a wind-powered vehicle, or team up to build a fantastic tower in Montshire’s expansive new Tinkering Loft.

This innovative and interactive space engages visitors through fun and whimsical challenges that get them thinking about concepts in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Visitors at Tinkering Loft activityThe Tinkering Loft builds on two years of successful programs that Montshire staff members have developed, tested, and refined with the help of hundreds of participants of all age groups. The 2,500-square-foot exhibition has four activity areas:

  • Families with young children can explore “Build It,” a creative playspace filled with oversized foam blocks. Kids are free to build forts and invent their own games. This free-form area helps develop problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills by allowing kids to experiment with geometry, materials, symmetry, and design concepts. (Open daily 10–5)
  • Three “Invitation to Tinker” spaces welcome all visitors to take on STEM challenges at their own pace. These areas offer project activities that encourage amateur engineers to build, experiment, and iterate on their personalized designs. For example, Spinning Tops urges older kids and adults to construct a twirling top from nuts, bolts, washers, and cardboard, and then to improve on their designs by tweaking the weight, center of gravity, and moment of inertia. Other activities include Design Planks and Wind Vehicles. Open daily 10–5.

Museum Explainer building a Design Planks structureIn addition to strengthening STEM skills, The Montshire’s tinkering activities provide opportunities to build “grit” – the perseverance and problem-solving mindset needed to succeed as a 21st-century learner. When people tinker, they try out ideas, make adjustments, and discover science firsthand. 

The Tinkering Loft is made possible with support from our Premier Exhibition Sponsor, Chroma Technology Corporation, our Exhibition Supporter, Red River Charitable Foundation, and donors to the David Goudy Discovery Fund.

WCAX-TV is the media sponsor for the Tinkering Loft.

Tinkering Lab

Open through June 19th. Build something in the Tinkering Lab!

The Tinkering Lab is a new, experimental space where visitors try their hand at engineering whimsical contraptions using real tools and materials. Tinkering Lab activities require cooperation, concentration, and a playful "tinkering mindset." You'll design, test, and build, and share your creations alongside other participants. For adults and families with children age 8 and over.   

Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m., through June 19. At times the Tinkering Lab is used for school programs, and isn't open to museum visitors during those times.

Tinkering activities may include:

Scribble Bots
Make moving robots that trace fun patterns with markers using weighted toy motors, batteries, wires, and other everyday materials. 

Electric Island
Design and construct a building or other structure, light it up with an LED, and collectively build a miniature city. 

Design Planks
Turn simple wooden planks into amazing creations. Visitors are challenged to build the tallest tower while explore balance and collaborating with other visitors.

Pinball Machines
Create a pinball exhibit using pegboard, dowels, rubber bands, and cardboard to be shared with other visitors throughout the day.

Human Plus

Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering, an engaging exhibition shows how we all can use our ingenuity to build body replacements, develop brain-machine interfaces, and engineer unique assistive tools that push human potential beyond limits.

What do you get when cutting edge science and engineering join forces to assist the human body? Endless possibilities for improving day-to-day lives and realize lifelong dreams! Explore Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont.

The exhibition offers visitors of all ages the chance to explore engineering concepts and create a range of low- and high-tech tools that extend the potential of the human body. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the exhibition showcases compelling stories from a unique field of engineering that uses science, technology, and creativity that not only helps people carry out their day-to-day routines, but also helps them realize lifelong dreams.

"It is no longer a conversation about overcoming deficiency…It’s a conversation about potential.” – Aimee Mullins, Paralympic champion, actor, model, inspirational speaker and double amputee.

We’re excited to be hosting the New England debut of Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering at the Montshire,” says Bob Raiselis, Montshire’s Exhibits Director. “Engineering is all about meeting challenges and solving problems, and this exhibition allows our museum visitors to learn about and to be part of the creative engineering involved in the important work of extending the capabilities of the human body.”

Every Body Plays
Throughout the exhibit, Montshire visitors will be able get their hands on a broad range of actual ability-enhancing tools. Exhibits include: a simulated downhill mono-ski course; a DJ station built of out a wheelchair and controlled by the wheels; a touch panel that translates music into vibrations that visitors can feel; a hands-free computer mouse, controlled through slight movements of the head, that allows a visitor to the exhibition to type messages, edit photos, and watch videos; and a neuroprosthetic limb that can be controlled by a person’s thoughts. Visitors can even re-design themselves in a full body simulation and test body enhancement technologies that supersize their strength, showcasing the new horizon of engineering that was once the stuff of science fiction.

Ask, Imagine, Create 
The engineering process always begins by asking the user what they want to achieve. The exhibition poses design challenges from real-life users, such as “can you make a tool to help a wheelchair user feed a pet? Or a tool that helps someone with a visual impairment locate hard-to-detect obstacles? How about a canoe that someone who doesn’t have arms can paddle?” After viewing some of the amazing technology developed by today’s engineers, visitors will be able to put their own engineering skills to the test as they build and try out their own inventions. 

Compelling Stories and Videos 
From busy moms to engineers, adventurers to dance performers: people who use these new technologies – as well as the innovators themselves – share their stories through videos as well as the real life tools they use every day. Whether they about caring for three children, or about reaching the summit of Mt. Everest, these stories captivate listeners.

Human Plus opens January 30 and runs through May 8, 2016.

The exhibition was created by the New York Hall of Science in partnership with OMSI and the Quality of Life Technology Center with funding from the National Science Foundation.

Presentation of Human Plus at the Montshire is made possible in part by

Lake Sunapee Bank

WCAX

Media Sponsor

 

HUMAN PLUS: REAL LIVES + REAL ENGINEERING

+ HUMANS TALK
March 1, 8, 15, and 22
6:30-7:30 pm 
Free and open to the public.

What happens when our bodies are injured, born with a challenge, or just wear out? What happens when you start adding technology to the outside and inside of the body? How do you adapt a single activity for multiple people with disabilities? How do we support a community with differences? 

This spring, the Montshire Museum of Science presents the exhibition, Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering, which tells compelling stories of engineers and users who design and use technologies to help themselves and others achieve their goals—from everyday routines to lifelong dreams. Join us for live community programs that examine the complexities of the human body and how we can support it through engineering and community well-being. 

March 1
+ HUMANS Evolve
The Evolution of Walking: The Perils of Bipedalism
Jeremy DeSilva, PhD
Watch the recorded video of this presentation

March 8
+ We Evolve HUMANS
Engineering on the Inside: Innovations in Implants
Michael Mayor, PhD
Watch the recorded video of this presentation

March 15
+ HUMANS have Differences 
Sports for Every Body
Maggie Burke
Watch the recorded video of this presentation

March 22
+ HUMANS find Balance 
Balancing Brains, Bodies and the Mind 
Adam Pearce
Watch the recorded video of this presentation 

+ Talks are supported by Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk

 

 

AirPlay Exhibition

Nine separate exhibit components demonstrate the complexity and beauty of moving air.

You can't see air, but you can watch for the signs that show that air is moving in this exhibition. Balance balls on streams of air, shoot a puff of air across the room with the "Air Cannon," speed through the "Air Race," puzzle out the complexities of the "Air Maze," and more. Nine separate exhibit components demonstrate the complexity and beauty of moving air. (Exhibition created by the Montshire Museum)

AirPlay components:

Fluttering Fabric 
This is the entrance piece to the exhibit, and is a set of fabric panels which flutter and flap as air blows upwards from their base. A mesmerizing effect!

Aeolian Landscape 
Discover how moving air changes the shape of the landscape! Watch as the air blown by a fan moves and rearranges sand inside the chamber. Notice that the sand always creates patterns, not smooth surfaces.

Air Cannon 
No ammunition needed except a gentle slap on the rubber backing of the "cannon." After you strike, watch the flutter disks on the wall—you can see the shape of the puff of air as it strikes the disks. Fire away!

Air Maze 
Engineers who design heating duct systems for houses have to figure out the number of turns and lengths of all the air passageways before they can decide on the size of ducts and fans. They know that before air can flow into a passageway, there must be an opening at the end of the passage. Blow a foam ball through the maze—see if you can change the direction of the ball by opening or closing the doors. It's air-mazing!

Air Race 
Air flowing through a passage rubs along the inside of the tube and its flow becomes turbulent. The longer (or more "wiggly") the passage, the more energy air will lose. In this exhibit, you and a friend can "race" two small balls by dropping them through a pair of blowholes at the same time. Their paths are exactly the same length: Which ball will arrive at the finish line first?

Ball Floaters 
This is like juggling with air! See how many small foam balls you can balance from the airstreams coming out of several transparent tubes. Discover how to get the balls to drop down into one tube and pop out of another, to balance more than one on a stream of air, and to hover halfway up the tube.

Fluid Flow 
We can't see air, but we can see its footprints—waving flags, ripples on a pond, or swaying fields of wheat all indicate that air is moving. Turn on the switch to this exhibit and direct an air hose at the wall of flutter disks. The disks move in a "watery" way because air flows the way a fluid does.

Sailboats 
When moving air pushes directly on a sail, it gives up some of its energy to the sail, and pushes the sailboat along in the same direction. Give it a try yourself by sailing model boats away from, across, and into the wind.

Tube Tunnels 
Air flowing through a tube pushes a ball along with it. Put a short tube on one of the air "hydrants" and run a ball through it. Then, add sections of the tube to make the path longer. Does the ball behave differently? What happens if you cover the end of the pipe with your hand?

Big Blue Blocks

These blocks were designed by an architect to allow users to manipulate their environment and to create structures and spaces from their imaginations.

There is no right or wrong way to experiment with these blocks, and we've found that visitors quickly discover endless variations on what they build. These construction blocks include familiar rectangular blocks, as well as blocks with holes and chutes, blocks that are rods and balls, and many more shapes. Visitors find that the open-ended nature of building with Big Blue Blocks can loosen up their creative side as they create their own inventions, environments, and activities.

The parts are easy for young children to stack and move around, but just as interesting for older children and adults to use to create complex structures and shapes.

The blocks are made in the United States, they're waterproof, resistant to sun and heat, and, when they are totally worn out from years of intense use, will be returned to the manufacturer to be recycled, because they are biodegradable!

Prehistoric Menagerie

A woolly mammoth with fur that is a foot thick, a tiny horse that bounds like an antelope, a seven foot tall carnivore that has the head of a giant warthog—meet them all at the Montshire Museum of Science this summer.

Short Faced Bear

Prehistoric Menagerie, by New Hampshire artist Bob Shannahan, takes visitors back in time as they discover life-size sculptures of prehistoric animals arranged in the natural environment. Each animal is beautifully sculpted from local plants, and blends into the grasses and woods around the museum’s David Goudy Science Park.

The animals represented in the Prehistoric Menagerie exhibition evolved during the Cenozoic Age – the “Age of Mammals," the 65 million years since the extinction of most dinosaurs. During this time, the world’s climate went through several changes from hot to cold, and the continents slowly moved into their current positions after the breakup of the large continent Pangaea into those we know today.

Orrohippus

The animals of the last 65 million years reflect this dramatically changing and evolving world. North America was a continent filled with many species of mammoths, camels, rhinos, sloths, lions, horses, giant bears – and people.  As the glaciers retreated after the last ice age, humans migrated to North America 15,000 years ago and made their home in a new land filled with prehistoric beasts.

American Camel

The six different animals from this prehistoric period that visitors to  the Montshire will meet include; the woolly mammoth, a short-faced bear, an American camel, an entelodont, an Orohippus, and a Gastornis.

Artist Bob Shannahan will present an outdoor sculpture drop-in workshop on Saturday, July 18 between noon and 4pm. Visit the events calendar page for more information.

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TOYS: The Inside Story

December 13, 2014–January 19, 2015 – Peek inside some well-known toys while exploring the basics of pulleys, cams, gears, linkages, and circuits.

Ever wonder just how that Hokey Pokey Elmo actually wiggles and dances?  Visit Toys: The Inside Story at the Montshire Museum of Science December 13, 2014 through January 19, 2015, and peek inside some well-known toys to discover the gadgets and gizmos that make them work.

This is a totally fun exhibition that examines the science and mechanics of how toys work with hands-on displays and tons of cool classic toys. First, explore the 14 different hands-on stations that illustrate the simple mechanisms in toys. From Jack-in-the-Box to Hokey Pokey Elmo®, explore the basics of pulleys, cams, gears, linkages and circuits. Then, experiment with the many different mechanical and electrical doodads that make toys so fun! TOYS is an exhibition the entire family will find irresistible.

TOYS: The Inside Story Exhibit Descriptions

Pulley Wall
Discover pulley power at this display that invites you to explore what a pulley is and how it behaves.

The Magic Behind the Silver Screen
Ever wonder how an Etch A Sketch® works? We’ve taken the toy apart to reveal its inner-workings. See how pulleys and wires guide the drawing tip.

Pattern Tracer
Test out your manual dexterity by tracing patterns on this gigantic Etch A Sketch®.

Big Pulley, Little Pulley
Create crazy optical illusions by connecting pulleys. Movable pulleys allow endless combinations and encourage discoveries about the relationship between pulley size, speed, and power.

Circuit Wall
These exhibits keep you current with the basics of circuits, switches, and circuit boards. Challenge yourself to keep a circuit open as you move a ring along an angled rod. Now you know why it takes a steady hand to win at the classic game Operation®!

Circuit Challenge
This giant circuit board is alive with fans, lights, and funny sounds. Can you make all of the circuits active at once?

Cam Wall
Cam you turn it? In this exhibit, rotating cams will make a frog jump, a gator bite, or a firefly flash. Look inside the classic Dr. Duck® toy to see how a cam lets him walk the walk.

Linkages Wall
Many toys include linkages that connect moving parts. Operate a Hungry Hippo® and a model of the inner workings of the charming Pudgy the Piglet® to see how you or a motor can turn a simple motion into one that’s more complex.

Gears Wall
You see gears in just about any machine with moving parts, including lots of popular toys! Gears are wheels with teeth. If two gears mesh, and you turn one, the other turns. But that’s just the start of what a gear can do.

Gears at Play
Movable gears on a big table can set all sorts of magical things in motion. Can you figure out how to use different sized gears to make the carousel or twirling ballerinas spin as fast as possible?

Big Gear, Little Gear
Crank it up and see how an industrial- size gear train can change the speed at which a shaft rotates.

What’s Inside the Hokey Pokey?
Hokey Pokey Elmo® loses his red fur and his plastic skin to reveal the source of his killer dance moves. Check out the motor, cam, circuit board, and switches that make Elmo dance.

What’s Inside the Marching Machine?
You can see right through Mr. Machine®, a classic toy from the 60’s made of clear plastic. The accompanying video highlights some of the linkages and cams that make him move. (See the original 1960 Mr. Machine® commercial, too!)

What’s Inside Jack-in-the-Box?
What makes Jack jump? Turn the crank on a real Jack-in-the-Box and watch live by video camera as the worm gear and cam mechanism turn him loose.

How Frogs See

Can a frog see something that isn't moving? Not so well!

When our explainers feed our frogs and toads, they wiggle the food in order for the animals to see it. This exhibit uses a special video processor to help visitors imagine what seeing their food might be like for frogs, who can see things that are moving but who have trouble seeing things that are still. Don't move too quickly, or the frog may try to catch you with its tongue!

This exhibit was designed by staff of the Montshire exhibits department.

Life in Shallow Water

The creatures in this seasonal exhibit are typical of those that live in still water. Some start their lives in the water but live as adults on land. Others spend their entire lives in the water.

Over the summer, we regularly bring in new creatures and release the ones that have grown. These creatures play an important role in aquatic ecosystems. They are often food for larger animals, such as fish and birds. If you look, you may see some of these creatures in the next swamp, marsh, or pond that you visit.

You may see caddisfly larvae, giant water bugs, whirligig beetles, a water scorpion, and more in this seasonal exhibit. It goes on view when aquatic insects begin to emerge in the spring and are placed on view in this special aquarium exhibit. Find a dragonfly nymph poised for its next meal, see a damselfly nymph emerge, or view tadpoles up close, revealing their developing legs as they prepare for their transition to living on land.

This exhibit was designed by staff of the Montshire exhibits department.

North Woods - Temperatures

See the difference in the temperature underground and 25 feet in the air!

On this stop on the Ridge Trail, visitors can see the difference in temperature five feet underground, three feet underground, at ground level, five feet above ground, and 25' high above the ground in the treetops. It's surprising how warm it is underground in the winter; in general, it's cooler in summer and warmer in winter as you move down from the surface. See graphs of temperatures at each of the five sensors over the course of a year - it's a clue to why many animals spend their winters underground or under the blanket of snow.

Grow Native!

Ecological Landscaping for the Upper Valley

Choosing native plants for our yards and gardens provides food and shelter for local wildlife. It also helps preserve New England’s familiar forest landscape.

This outdoor exhibit combines information about the problem of invasive plant species with live examples of some of the beautiful native species that can be used for landscaping in their stead. We've created a plant landscape in the area around the Hughes Pavilion using native plant species, and labels on key plants point out the advantages of using that particular native plant instead of non-native plants that have been used in the past.

Our native plants are at the base of the local food web and provide food for insects and birds. Birds come to our area to raise their young because this area is full of insects. Insects are a rich food source for many birds. Caterpillars (moth and butterfly larvae) are an especially important source of food for baby birds because they are high in protein.

Learn more about insects, birds, and native alternatives to invasive plants outside at the Grow Native exhibit.

109 Degrees Below Zero

109.3° below zero F is colder than the lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States, but that's how cold the dry ice in this exhibit is!

Small pieces of dry ice drop into water and spin in a cloud of gas. Watch dry ice change from a solid into a gas as it skates around on the surface of the water. The pieces spin because the dry ice is changing unevenly. The water warms the ice more quickly than the air does.

Botanical Investigations

Many plants are beautiful to us, even if we don't know what they are. But, when you think you might be standing in poison ivy, it's time to think like a botanist. Learn how to do just that at this set of five exhibits about botany.

Botanists study plants, and use a tool called a key to identify plants that they don’t know. In this set of five exhibit stations, visitors can use a key to solve  mysteries, learn to recognize poison ivy, and see how some common plants spread their seeds far and wide.

After exploring these exhibits, visit this online botanical key of plants found in New England. Use it from home to identify plants and to learn about the diversity of native plants.


Hemlock Holmes - solve a botanical mystery

Using the clues that Hemlock Holmes presents, solve four botanical mysteries and become a full-fledged botanical detective! While you solve the mysteries, learn about plant, flower, and tree characteristics, and how these help botanists make identifications in the field.

Poisonous Plants - learn to identify poison ivy

Test your knowledge of poison ivy's many disguises and see how well you can pick it out of a crowd. Learn to think like a botanist to tell poison ivy apart from its common look-alikes.

Flying seeds - fold a maple seed spinner

Maple trees can’t fly but their seeds can! Fold your own maple seed out of origami paper and give it a toss over the balcony to watch it spin towards the ground, the same way maple seeds spin to the ground from a tree.

Hitchhiking seeds - investigate burdock hooks and Velcro®

Burdock seeds are spread using hooked seed carriers called burs; learn how one scientist's observation of this characteristic led to the invention of one of the most useful fasteners of the 20th century. Animals help burdock seeds travel when a bur hitches a ride on their fur or feathers, or on our own clothing.

Shooting seeds - explode a seed pod

Brush against or squeeze a jewelweed pod in late summer and you can see it explode. The seeds can end up 6 feet away. In this interactive model of a jewelweed pod, visitors re-create that event over and over, to see how this plant has adapted to efficiently disperse its seeds.

 

For more information about botanical identification and to learn more about native plants in New England, visit the online botanical key to New England plants at http://gobotany.newenglandwild.org


The material in the Botanical Investigations exhibit group is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 08-40186. Created in partnership with the New England Wild Flower Society.

Zoetrope

Create your own cartoon and watch it play

Draw your own movie and discover how animated films and cartoons depend upon the fact that it takes our eyes a moment or two to forget what they've just seen. By drawing one frame in each square of the long sheets of special paper supplied with the exhibit, visitors can create their own snippet of animation and play it back in the Zoetrope.

Water Depth and Pressure (seasonal)

Feel the relationship between water pressure and depth

Did you ever dive down deep in water and feel it pressing on you? The lowest of these pipes feel the same way. Nine pipes give you three ways to see that the deeper the water, the more pressure there is from above.

Time Machine

Spin the knob to view movement that can't normally be seen by speeding it up or slowing it down

Spin the knob to speed up and slow down video footage of things that normally happen too quickly or too slowly to see. What exactly happens when a dog shakes itself off? What would a tree look like if you took a picture every day for a year? How about that skateboard trick that happens too quickly to see? Find out!

Woodland Garden

A short path featuring native plants and spectacular views

A beautiful outdoor exhibition area featuring native plants, trees, and flowers on a short walk near the Museum building. Exhibit stations along the short 1/10-mile walk interpret the special nature of our forested area, and what makes native plants special and worth protecting. Learn more.

Wood Frog Pool (seasonal)

A trailside exhibit that offers amphibian and insect species a place for new life every spring

Every year our vernal pool on the Ridge Trail offers trail walkers a look at how temporary pools of water encourage the development of amphibian and insect species in the spring. At other times of the year, the exhibit offers information on the importance of these pools to our local ecology.

Windows on Earth

View the Earth from miles above, or swoop down to see details

Imagine seeing the Earth pass below, watching from the window of an orbiting space station. Windows on Earth shows visitors that view, and also allows close-up views of geological features along with animations describing the formation of significant land forms around the world. This exhibit module is part of the Dynamic Earth exhibition, created by the Montshire.

Wind Wall

A side of the Montshire tower dances and responds to passing breezes

Wind WallThe north-facing surface of the Montshire tower is covered with reflective disks that "draw" the patterns made by the wind. The windprints you see are reminiscent of a breeze blowing across a pond, or wind blowing on a field of grass. This exhibit was created by artist/designer Ned Kahn.

Wind Socks (seasonal)

Colorful tubes full of air dance in the breeze

Air blowing from below inflates and helps a set of 12-foot long nylon wind tubes dance in the breeze. This outdoor exhibit is adjacent to Science Park, and can be seen both from the ground and from the Museum Tower. Visitors can adjust the airflow to change how the wind tubes wave and flutter, or the exhibit can be left on its own to dance to the passing breezes.

Whisper Tubes

A whisper carries for yards in a Whisper Tube

Shhh... no need to shout! Speak softly and be amazed at how far your voice carries. There are whisper tubes on the North Woods bridge, on the Science Park terrace, and in Andy's Place. Listen to and talk with a partner at the other end of the whisper tube, even if you are far from where they are - no cellphone needed!

Weather

A computerized exhibit with current and historic weather information

Get data from our rooftop weather station, see displays on forces that shape local weather patterns, and browse an online gallery of historical photos showing extreme weather events in the Upper Valley. The weather exhibit also displays its readings online 24 hours a day at http://www.montshire.org/weather - see what the weather is like at the museum from anywhere in the world!

Water Dance (seasonal)

An interactive fountain in Science Park

Control the water jets in a walk-through fountain by pressing buttons on a control panel. Or, just let the controller surprise you as it creates a random pattern of water spraying up from the base of the fountain. Visitors can interact with the water jets if they don't mind getting a good soaking!

Water Bells (seasonal)

By changing the flow, create amazing shapes with flowing water

Turn the knobs to change the flow of water in this multi-jet fountain. You can make the water form big, round bells, skinny bells with wavering edges, and sputtering jets of water if you get it just right, you can even create a perfectly-flared bell shape.

Visco City

Bubbles rise through different fluids in the Museum entryway

Visco City exhibitThis mesmerizing exhibit in the Museum's main entryway sheds light on how viscosity in liquids affects how objects move through them. It's also stunningly beautiful to watch, as bubbles of air rise, join, and finally reach the top of columns of fluid lit from above.

Up and Out

Spin a steel column and watch what happens 20 feet up

Colorful balls on steel arms extend out high above Science Park when this exhibit is spun from below. Up and Out is a colorful demonstration of momentum and the conservation of energy, as the balls rise on their arms as the exhibit is spun faster and faster

Turtles

View painted turtles swim in an aquarium from a unique perspective

View painted turtles swim in an aquarium from a unique perspective! The underside of the aquarium is clear and allows visitors to see them from below, as though they were in a pond with them.

Turtle Hatchlings

Newly-hatched turtles spending their first year of life at the museum

Watch the youngest turtles in the Aquarium Area diving to the bottom of their tank or basking on a log. Each summer the Montshire has incubating turtle eggs on display. The hatchlings that emerge from those eggs are kept in this tank. One year after the turtles hatch at the Montshire, they are released in the area where the eggs were originally found to begin their lives in the wild.

Turbulent Orb

Spin this sudsy, liquid-filled, sculpture that mimics the Coriolis effect that causes swirling clouds above Earth's surface and creates the striped bands of color on gaseous planets like Jupiter and Saturn.

As visitors spin this exhibit the suds follow the flow patterns caused by the changing speed of the rotation. Depending on the acceleration of the orb, laminar regions, where everything is parallel, appear and no mixing occurs. The laminar regions form bands, which follow the rotational direction of the orb. As the spin of the fluid slows and changes, the fluid mixes and the bands break up into turbulent swirls, ripples, and waves. Turbulent flow is complex and chaotic and converts organized, laminar flow into smaller and smaller forms.

Tree Slice

A slice of a tree that is over 150 years old reveals its rings

Go back in time as you count the tree rings on this five-foot diameter slice from a historic Elm tree. This tree began growing in nearby Hanover, New Hampshire in the early 1800s and was removed in 1998; this slice was preserved and given to the Montshire by Dartmouth College.

Trajectories

Get the angle and force right, and send the ball through the basket

Adjust the parabolic trajectory of the "basketball" and see if you can hit a "three-pointer." Regular Museum visitors know that the Trajectories exhibit always offers a good investigation into how the angle and force of a throw change how far and how high it goes.

TOYS: The Inside Story (an exhibition created by the Montshire)

Twelve exhibits about common toys and how they work

Calling all kids (and adults) who like to take their toys apart! This exhibition lets you peek inside some common toys while exploring the mechanisms that make them work. View a dissected Etch-A-Sketch® and trace patterns on a giant version of the toy at one of the 12 hands-on stations. Learn about gears, pulleys, linkages, and other mechanisms, and then see them in use.

Tower Clock

A historic clock becomes an exhibit about gears and the movement of a pendulum

Study the mechanical intricacies of this historic New England tower clock and learn how the Connecticut River once powered industry and helped change the world. The clock is from a town building in nearby Woodsville, NH, and is on loan to the Montshire from the Haverhill Historical Society. It was built by the Seth Thomas Clock Company in 1923.

Thrush Songs

Listen to the songs of local birds in the Thrush family

These birds are known for their beautiful songs. The Upper Connecticut River Valley is a great place to hear bird songs, and this exhibit allows you to compare the songs of several types of thrush using recordings you can listen to again and again

Texture Tunnel

A tunnel with textures on the way to the Andy's Place aquarium

Crawling through this tunnel on the way to the Andy's Place aquarium, younger visitors encounter multiple textures to see and feel as they head towards the aquarium and Bear Den.

Straws & String

Create geometric shapes that then become bubbles

Make shapes with straw sections and string, and then create bubbles that match those shapes using your creations.

Stairway Rollway

A long rollway on the Andy's Place stairs with sounds

Start a ball at the top of the stairs and watch it roll back and forth, making sounds as it goes. The ball stops at the bottom of the stairs, and it's just a short walk up to begin the process again.

Resonant Pendulum

Can you move a 3-ton rock with a piece of string?

You can really move mountains when you put your mind to it. In this case, try swinging this heavy stone by timing your pulls and tugs to the stone's natural swinging rhythm. Easy does it! A small magnet is attached to a light string, and is enough to pull the boulder just enough with each swing to get it going.

Whisper Dishes

Stand and speak, and only one other person can hear you, and they're forty feet away

Two parabolic dishes face each other 40 feet apart. When you whisper at the focal point of one dish your friends can hear you loud and clear as they listen at the other dish. It's because the shape of your dish focuses the sound waves from your voice and allow them to travel much further than they normally would, and because the shape of your friend's dish collects the sound and bounces it to their ear.

Spin Table

A gently-spinning table that encourages exploration with balls and disks

Spin Table exhibitWhen a ball is rolled across a table whose surface is rotating, the path it takes can be surprising. The Spin Table allows Montshire visitors to investigate the physics of spinning surfaces and spinning forces, with some surprising results!

Skittles

A top-spinning exploration of movement and momentum

Spin a top and watch as it whirls around, quickly, slowly, wobbly, smoothly, hopping, bumping, and every so often knocking over a pin in this museum-size variation of a classic skittles game.

Singing Stone

An exhibit made of stone that "sings" when played just the right way

The music is in the palms of your hands. A square column of basalt is sliced in such a way that when rubbed with wet hands, it vibrates like a tuning fork and produces a powerful sound. This exhibit, adjacent to the Rill in Science Park, allows for the creation of a little music along with the sounds of rushing water.

Sand Table (seasonal)

Investigate the movement of sand in a constant stream of water

This seasonal Science Park exhibit allows visitors to investigate how sand moves as it it exposed to a constantly-flowing stream of water, modeling what happens in a stream bed.

Rollways

Create your own rollway designs and test them with a partner

And they're off! Construct your own raceway and learn how to speed things up or slow them down. Visitors create pathways with easy-to-move partitions on a panel and race a ball through the course. Sometimes the goal is speed, sometimes the goal is complexity; but it's always challenging and engaging.

Rock Music

Make music with pebbles in these Science Park exhibit stations

Pour small handfuls of gravel along different sides of the box. The nails lining the box have different lengths and thicknesses, and the pebbles striking them create a sound like a music box as they tumbling down. This exhibit was inspired by an idea from artist/designer Ned Kahn.

River Loop Trail

A pleasant trail along the Connecticut River, much of which is accessible to wheelchairs

Journey along the Connecticut River, enjoy views from several lovely overlooks, and visit the "Migration Station." This path is surfaced with a hard-packed material that allows the passage of wheelchairs and strollers. 

Rill (seasonal)

Water burbles through Science Park in this longest water exhibit at the Montshire

This is a 250-foot long watercourse with small adventures waiting to happen along the way. Float a ball downstream and make observations about why it is moving quickly or slowly or not at all. Make dams and redirect the water flow, or watch patterns of light and shadow on the rill's bottom as water spins around cylinders and other moveable shapes.

Mother and Child

A life-size bronze sculpture of a bear and her cub

This 2009 bronze sculpture by artist Carrie Quade shows a momma bear and baby bear nestled together in one of our wooded areas. This life-size sculpture shows a mother and young bear of this native species.

Ridge Trail

A challenging trail with exhibits about our Northern environment

The beautiful Ridge Trail includes exhibit stations about decomposition, geology, tree and plant growth, bark, and much more. It's a more challenging hike than the Woodland Garden or River Loop, and is 1.0 mile long. 

Moose

A mounted specimen of the eastern Moose, with sample of Moose fur to touch

Meet Alces Alces Americana, otherwise known as the eastern Moose. View this beautiful mounted male specimen, standing six feet tall in our upstairs exhibit gallery, and touch a sample of real moose fur to learn more about this majestic animal species.

Reptiles

Mounted examples of reptiles from our permanent collection

This rich collection includes touchable crocodile and alligator skulls, fossils, a 26-foot long anaconda snakeskin, and drawers full of other reptilian exhibit elements.

Red Waves

A circular flag that spins and billows when turned from below

Ever wonder what causes a flag to snap in a high wind? This outdoor exhibit has a circular "flag" that whips and waves as it turns. Spin the pole and watch the edges of the fabric move in waves, responding to the air that it is moving through. Even when there is no wind at all, this circular “flag” flutters in the breeze.

Pressure Fountain (seasonal)

Create fountains of your own design with pressurized water and snap- together piping

Pressure Fountain exhibitImagine a fire hydrant, except with several different water outlets. When all the outlets except one is plugged up, all of the pressure goes to the one remaining outlet. Multiple outlets, attachments, and gizmos allow for the exploration of water pressure alone or with a group of people.

Polygon Mirrors

Angled mirrors can create what appear to be complex shapes from ordinary objects

Look deep into these angled mirrors and find the polyhedron, a solid shape with flat surfaces. See if you can make a polyhedron with 20, 24, or even 48 sides. The exhibit consists of mirrors jointed together to create “mirror boxes.” Each mirror box is created with different angles, and each produces a different polyhedron when an object or objects are placed inside.

Planetary Landscapes

A visually-stunning exhibition modeling the dynamics of planetary change

Interacting with this series of eleven visual and tactile sculptures, visitors explore the dynamic forces that shape our Solar System. They are often displayed individually or in small groupings, and occasionally as a complete group. Some of these Planetary Landscapes exhibits are part of our Dynamic Earth exhibition, showing the relationship between geologic, weather, and wind forces and constant changes to the Earth.

Planet Walk

A scale model of the solar system that is over a mile and a half long

Planet Walk exhibit

Our largest exhibit! Start your scale-model journey from the sculpture of the Sun near David Goudy Science Park. As you journey along the Planet Walk you will encounter the inner planets (Mercury first, then Venus, the Earth, and Mars), and the Asteroid Belt, and then the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). To reach the Kuiper Belt objects, including tiny Pluto, be prepared for a 1.6-mile walk along the Ridge Trail and Hazen Trail! The distances are scaled to the sizes of the planet models; it's surprising how far apart the planets are, compared to what we expect from pictures of the solar system that we've seen in books.

Numerals of the World

A large clock in the center of the museum with several kinds of numerals noting the time

This clock face, suspended in the middle of the museum, shows numbers from different cultures around the world and throughout history. It's visible from the large open area on the first floor as well as from the second floor stairway.

Observation Tower Viewer

Far becomes near with this telescopic viewer at the top of the Observation Tower.

This classic telescopic viewer at the top of the Observation Tower allows visitors a great view of birds on the Connecticut River, Science Park, and the wooded areas to the north. This is the same 1930s-style viewer as is found at the top of the Empire State Building in New York City.

North Woods

A set of outdoor exhibits on the Ridge Trail and Blood Brook Loop

This series of exhibits along the Ridge Trail and Blood Brook Loop reveals the unique natural history of northern New England, including its geology, trees, seed dispersal, plant-animal interactions, insect life, decomposition, and historical land-use patterns. 

Mussels and Dams

How the dams we build affect the aquatic creatures that live near them

Meet the mussel species that can be found in our local waters. You'll learn about the fascinating life cycle of these often-overlooked creatures and appreciate the role they play in our ecology. Learn how the dams we build affect them and other animals in our watershed.

Musical Fence

A row of tuned tubes becomes a musical instrument in Science Park

Musical Fence is a creation of artist Paul Matisse. The vertical aluminum pipes vibrate and emit sound when gently struck with a rubber mallet. The sound pipes are mounted in a reinforced concrete beam and make a musical instrument with almost limitless sound possibilities. Stand still and play a tune, or walk quickly past the sound tubes, and “strum” them with the soft hammer—the melody is up to you.

Monarch Butterfly Model

An enormous model of a Monarch butterfly hangs in the museum

Celebrate the beauty of one of our most distinctive butterflies. Created by artist Marilyn Aber, this model has a nine-foot wingspan and hangs over the center of the exhibit hall. If you look carefully around the museum, you can find the caterpillar and chrysalis models as well.

Lithophone (Stone Xylophone)

An outdoor xylophone made of stone allows for musical meanderings

Strike the five slabs of stone of varying depths with a soft hammer. It is a wonderful surprise to find that a stone can produce music.

Meadow Sounds Kiosk

A kiosk adjacent to our meadow offers examples of the sounds of a Vermont meadow in the summer

Listen to recordings of birds and insects. Can you hear any of the creatures in the nearby meadow? This outdoor kiosk exhibit is solar-powered and offers images and recordings of local birds and insects. Also included is information about their similarities and differences.

The Meadow Sounds Kiosk is located at the west end of the Meadow in the Quinn Preserve.

Meadow

A 2-acre meadow alongside the Meadow Walk trail

On the river side of the railroad tracks lies a 2-acre meadow, a demonstration plot for native grasses, and an enriched riverside environment for birds and other animals. Find out more on our “Nature Trails” page.

Looking Inside (an exhibition created by the Montshire Museum)

An exhibition about how doctors use modern technologies to see inside the human body

This exhibit was created in association with Dartmouth Medical School's Department of Radiology. Learn about various non-invasive medical imaging technologies and what information they can reveal about the human body. Still and moving images created using X-ray, MRI, PET, angiogram, CT-scan, four-dimensional ultrasound, and other technologies are featured in an interactive computer module. Examples of real X-rays, a replica human skeleton, examples of real artificial joints, and a "Guess the X-Ray" interactive game are part of the exhibition.

Leafcutter Ants

A living colony of leafcutter ants goes about its daily work for all to see

Our colony of these ants native to Central and South America go about their lives in a transparent exhibit for visitors to see. This colony of farmers take the leaves with which we supply them, chew the leaves into a paste, and use the paste to feed the fungus they grow to support the colony. Watch a magnified view of the ants cutting the leaves into small pieces in the viewing chamber, and then follow them as they transport the leaf cuttings one by one to the fungus garden. If you are lucky you may get to see the queen ant in one of her rare public appearances!

Lariat Chain

A delicate steel chain dances and jitterbugs as it moves

Give the Lariat Chain a quick tug, and marvel at the resulting serpentine wave motion made by this simple machine. With the smallest change in how the chain moves comes large differences in how it looks – a great example of chaotic motion.

Knot Topology

Puzzle out some of the geometry of knots and topology

Mathematically speaking, a doughnut is the same as a coffee mug with a handle – topologically, anyway. Hard to believe? You can further explore the mathematics of shapes and surfaces with the knotted puzzles at this exhibit. This challenging series of puzzles is a favorite of adult visitors.

Humming Stone

Hum a favorite tune and listen to your voice in a way you've never heard before

A chamber that is just the right size will resonate when a sound is made within it. This chamber is made of stone, and is just the right size to resonate when someone hums inside of it. Hear your voice resonate at different pitches.

Kinetic Energy

Balls bounce, roll, and make sounds in these motion-based exhibits

These whimsical contraptions illustrate the conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy. Rube Goldberg would be proud! The Montshire has two kinetic energy machine exhibits; Fred Crusade created the larger of the two (on the second floor) that is powered by visitors turning the crank, and George Rhoads created a kinetic sculpture called “Odyssey of the Spheres” that is self-powered, on exhibit on the first floor.

Kalliroscope

Discover the beauty of turbulence in this artistic exhibit

Kalliroscope exhibitSpin this shallow circular container and watch in wonder as a pearly turquoise fluid begins to move in silky curlicues. It's a demonstration of how turbulence affects the movement of liquids, and it's a beautiful and interactive experience in this exhibit created by artist Paul Matisse.

Kaleidoscope

View Science Park a whole new way through a kaleidoscope

Look into the scope and you can see eleven wedge-shaped images of Science Park. One of the images is a direct view through a piece of glass. The others are reflections of the image, and reflections of those reflections, and on and on.

Jovian Clouds

Change the spinning speed of this sudsy, liquid-filled, sculpture to observe the smooth, laminar flow devolve into turbulence.

As visitors spin this exhibit the suds follow the flow patterns caused by the changing speed of the rotation. Depending on the acceleration of the orb, laminar regions, where everything is parallel, appear and no mixing occurs. As the spin slows or changes, the fluid mixes and the bands break up into turbulent swirls, ripples, and waves. Turbulent flow is complex and chaotic and converts organized, laminar flow into smaller and smaller forms.

Insect Area

Explore the diversity of local insects with examples from the permanent collection

Insect exhibit areaExplore the amazing diversity of our region through this series of exhibits on dragonflies, damselflies, beetles, moths, and more. Magnifying video cameras let you look closely at hundreds of species from our permanent collection.

Human Sundial

Stand in the right place and the sun will tell you the time

Stand in the center of a sundial face laid out on the ground, and you become a "gnomon" (the arrow on a sundial). Your shadow falls on carved stone hour markers. You have become a human timepiece!

Cold Water

This tank houses the Museum's slippery, fast-swimming brook trout.

The brook trout in this tank live in streams where the water is always moving. They are covered in tiny scales and a special slime that makes them really slippery and able to swim smoothly through the water, reducing the energy uses. They also rest in areas where there is turbulence in the water. Look for them on the downstream side of rocks and sticks in the aquarium tank and in these same areas in streams and rivers.

Chicken Rollway

Release a ball and watch it roll down the rollway

A special rollway for younger visitors to Andy's Place, with a special "friend" who helps the ball turn a corner halfway down.

Gear Train

Gears can change the speed of what you're turning

Turn speed into force, or force into speed, depending upon which end of this colorful gear train you crank. Multiple gears are assembled into a gear train that increases the speed at which the last gear turns.

Honeybees

A live colony of honeybees visible from inside the museum

The queen bee and the multitude of chores performed by workers and drones are on display for all to see in this indoor/outdoor hive of living and hard-working honeybees. The bees set up their hive in an indoor exhibit, but have access to the outside of the building through a clear tube to gather pollen and nectar and return with it to the hive.

Heat Camera

A camera sensitive to infrared light can show heat and cold

Stand in front of a video screen and see yourself in patterns of hot and cold! The special camera detects a type of radiation called infrared light and shows the resulting imagery on a video screen. Although our eyes can't see infrared light, we can feel it as heat. This camera makes infrared light visible to us, showing areas of higher and lower temperatures on our clothing and on our skin.

Gravity Well

Roll a penny 'round and 'round this smooth exhibit to see the forces of gravity and momentum interact

Send pennies spinning around the center hole to get an idea of how gravity and momentum work to keep the planets orbiting around the sun. Using a launcher, visitors can aim the spinning penny for maximum orbit or for the quickest journey into the center hole. The Museum supplies the pennies!

Geochron

Find out how long today will be and where on earth the day will be longer (and shorter)

The Geochron shows the month, date, day of the week, hours and minutes, along with the areas of the world currently experiencing day and night, and the meridian passage of the sun. Visitors can see the difference in the length of daytime in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and the current pattern of light and dark on the Earth's surface.

Dust Devil (Make a Vortex)

Spin the propeller on this sculpture to recreate a tornado-like motion.

Visitors spin the propeller to create a vortex in the center of the tank. The vortex sweeps up fine particles of sand into the swirling whirlpool. When the handle stops turning the vortex dissipates and releases the particles. You can watch the sand slowly drift and settle out of the solution, just as dirt particles are released by desert dust devils.

Frog Calls

Learn about the sounds made by local frogs

Learn to tell a woodfrog's "quack" from a bullfrog's "jug-o-rum” with this set of photographs of local frogs matched with the sound of their call.

Frog and toad tank

View frogs, toad, small fish and aquatic insects in their own environment

This shallow water habitat is the perfect place for a close-up view of several species of frogs and toads, as well as small fish and other aquatic creatures. You may even see a crayfish lurking under a rock!