What's New at the Franklin Institute

Your Brain, Circus Science, 101 Inventions



Neural Climb in the Your Brain exhibit

Tessa Seales

This coming weekend marks the grand opening of the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion, a brand-new exhibit space at the Franklin Institute. Here’s what to expect when you go.

Lining the entrance to the Karabots Pavilion are wind-up “dolls” of famous scientists — Albert Einstein and Marie Curie. Turn the crank at the base of their platforms and they’ll pop to life, telling you all about their famous discoveries.

Your Brain, the Karabots’ signature exhibit, allows visitors the opportunity to think about how people, well, think. It’s segmented based on the functions of the brain: Neural Climb, Neurons, Pathways, Street Scene, Real Life and Ethics & The Future, all incorporating 70 hands-on, interactive activities. Each of these sections was incredible in its own way, but my favorite by far was the 18-foot Neural Climb that represents the way neurons connect; similar to the FI’s famous Giant Heart, you can climb on and explore the structure. Other displays let you see and feel a brain, scan a brain in an MRI fashion, fire a model neuron and test your short-term memory. There is also a very loopy sensory film experience (not for the weak-stomached) that lets you “dangle” from the ceiling Fred Astaire dances on, as well as a fun multitasking driving simulator that emphasizes the dangers of texting and driving.

At Circus! Science Under the Big Top, strap in to test the laws of physics and try your hand at two signature circus tricks: walking the High Wire and being shot as a Human Cannonball (just remember to wear pants or you’ll be walking the tight rope in red shorts, like MK’s marketing director Jamie!). A sensory guessing game lets you determine different circus smells — but only good ones, like popcorn and cotton candy.

101 Inventions That Changed the World uses a high-tech system known as Sensory4 to immerse you amid crystal-clear images of the world’s most noteworthy inventions (phonograph, spinning wheel, abacus) chosen by an all-star panel of scientists. The imagery is so crisp, you may want to reach out and touch the screens — or in my case, walk into them. When you need interactivity, release your creativity in the Inventors Den.

A final Karabots exhibit, Ocean Soul, displays impressive underwater photography taken by Brian Skerry.

If you’re planning on Saturday, June 14, get there early; the first 500 people to show up get free admission.

Tessa Seales is a MetroKids co-op intern and English student at Drexel University.

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