DETROIT: Science Fun!

2 Mar

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It’s a snowy Sunday afternoon and we are looking for some indoor fun, we’ve been meaning to check out the recently re-opened Science Center; no time like the present. We found parking on the street, which can be hard to come by in this busy museum district, just a short walk across the street and we’re there. Formerly known as the Detroit Science Center, the Michigan Science Center has reopened much to the delight of parents and children in southeastern Michigan. The museum is a playground of hands-on exhibits, live presentations and interactive activities.  I was a little surprised to find a such a long line to get in, obviously word has gotten out that science is back in Detroit. There is one price for general admission, you may also choose to purchase tickets for the IMAX and planetarium; “two for the museum please”. Once inside the exhibit area the volume level rises, the sound of fun fills the air. To the right is a familiar sight from my childhood, the escalator that passes through the neon rainbow tunnel that brings you up from the IMAX, wasn’t that in an old commercial? On the left is a special exhibit about diabetes, as we travel through the display we find ourselves inside a blood vessel, signs describe what we are looking at and the effect diet and exercise have on blood sugar levels; the most popular area has a moving floor that requires a bit of balance to walk across. 

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Next we are in an area of large bright yellow objects that move, shake and spin; simulating how concrete and asphalt are mixed, so this is what it’s like to be aggregate. First we pass over a ramp that moves back and forth as it takes us forward, next up, the tumbler; this part is tricky, you have to walk through the cylinder as it rotates, hey, we did it without injury….  As we exit we make our way past long tubes that hang and swing from above, one more conveyor belt-type ramp down, we jump to the floor, whew, we made it! The floor ahead is divided into two lanes, like a road, wait…is that the Mackinac Bridge? Yes, sort of….This is the mini-mac, an 80 ft long pedestrian bridge that teaches the engineering process, I just think it’s cool. From the bridge we overlook the lower floor; there’s a demonstration just finishing up on the Chrysler Science Stage. There is so much going on we don’t know what to do next. We spend the next hour wandering around; check out the inside of an Apollo space capsule or one of the large scale rockets; the largest one 36 ft tall spanning from the first floor to the roof. In the Motion area we play a laser harp on beams of invisible light. The “Jam Room” is filled to capacity with youngsters rocking out. There’s a huge area dedicated to the manufacturing process, the United States Steel Fun Factory is 2,800 sq. ft of fun that details how an idea becomes a reality; you even get to pass through a blast furnace, it really is hot in there! Want to take a family photo? Have a seat on the couch between two over-sized “couch potatoes” then learn about nutrition so you won’t become one! Exhibits cover all areas of science; health, engineering, space and physical science, and they make it fun! If you have the time, catch a live show in the planetarium, MI-SCI is home to one of the finest digital planetarium projection systems; fly past 9,000 stars, planets and galaxies in a 3-story high dome. Speaking of Domes, the Chrysler IMAX Dome Theater is Michigan’s only IMAX dome.

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We played until our hunger got the best of us, then it was off to Greektown for a late lunch. I think Plaka Cafe is the only one of the old school restaurants that we’d never been to, until today that is. Open 24 hours, the neon signs in the windows inform us they serve Gyros and Coney’s and they offer Bfast 24 hrs. Inside we seat ourselves in a booth by the front window, our waitress greets us with menus and water. As I read the menu I realize this is not your typical Greek restaurant, but instead, a Greek Diner. The food coming out of the kitchen begins to sway our decision of what to eat; coney dog, no, huge fluffy omelette with a side of golden hash browns…maybe, we hear the strawberry pancakes are delicious,the folks next to us went for the gyro, that looks good. Finally we make up our mind; of course we get the flaming cheese, throw in a bowl of lemon rice soup, a falafel sandwich and a fatoosh salad and you get two people who enjoyed a tasty lunch and couldn’t eat another bite. 

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