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Field Trip Report: Cincinnati Museum Center

October 3, 2012

Human beings have a tendency to think of everything worth visiting as being far away.  Our children sit in boring classrooms all day studying about things far away, while we slave away at work saving up to visit some place far away.  But the reality is that fun and adventure can be found right here close to home.

Louisville is usually our go to city for short trips. We often go to the Frazier Museum in Louisville.( )  They have tons of cool exhibits, programs and interactive learning opportunities.  First Fridays is a program all home schoolers should know about!  ( homeschool-programs )

But even though we love the Frazier Museum, we were ready for something a little different, so we decided to head up to Ohio to check out the Cincinnati Museum Center. ( )  It’s only an hour or so away, so we figured we would give it a try.

The museum itself, is actually a train station; Union Terminal to be specific.  As soon as we arrived we knew it was going to be pretty cool!

Since our field trip was taking place well after public schools were back in session, we pretty much had the place all to ourselves. When we walked in, we were all struck by the sturdy construction of the terminal.  This place was definitely made to last!

Once through the main entryway, the building opens up and invites you in with a giant multi ethnic mural dedicated to all the different groups that were integral parts to the history of Cincinnati.

Not five minutes went by before a nice gentleman came up, introduced himself and welcomed us to the museum center.  I must say, the staff was very knowledgeable and every staff member we met was extremely helpful and polite.

Our first exhibit was a real treat for the boys, arrowheads, a giant Mastodon skeleton and a polar bear!  They had a cool station set up to simulate the insulative properties of Polar Bear Blubber.  It was a super simple experiment anyone can do at home.

The experiment starts with two plastic bags, separated by a thick layer of Crisco and immersed in a tray of ice water to simulate the insulative properties of animal fat. First the child sticks his hand in the bag insulated by the Crisco to test the temperature, then he takes his hand out of the bag and places it directly in the ice water.  The difference is startling!


Next we ran upon a cool interactive learning center full of awesome little home schoolers.

We wanted to stop and hang out, but we were on a mission to see the whole museum before it closed.  So off to the “Ice Age” exhibit we went.

Just to digress for a moment; of course the Ice age exhibit did not deal with just the fact that the climate changes over the course of time, there was a definite bias towards the idea of Anthropomorphic Climate Change, with which I do not agree.  But it was cool and informative nonetheless.

Having a six year old means that you are going to be asked the same question at every museum, “Where are the dinosaurs?”.  And lo and behold as soon as we left the Ice Age exhibit we ran smack dab into a couple of dinosaurs.

After perusing dinosaurs for a while we headed over to the modern history of Cincinnati area.  I must say that this was one of the most interesting exhibits I have seen.  Basically you are able to get a real taste of what life has been like for city residents over the last two hundred years.  There is a downtown street, a series of merchant stores and a riverboat, replete with cotton bales, life size figures, an in tact wheel house and a well diagramed steam engine and engine drive train.

One of my personal favorites, was the WWI and WWII era exhibits.  It was really cool to see how important the industry of Cincinnati was to the war effort.  I had never realized the extent of Cincinnati’s importance to total national industrial output.  The amount of factory output during the war years was truly astounding, as were the methods of transporting all those workers through town.

The Museum Center is a pretty big place, so of course little kids start to get tired and a little bored at about the three hour mark.  Which brings us to my six year olds favorite part of the trip, The Duke Energy Children’s Museum ( childrensmuseum ).  The children’s museum is simply AWESOME!  As soon as we walked in, my six year old perked up and his little mind starting going a million miles an hour.

First things first, we went directly into the Woods ( woods ) and started solving puzzles, climbing and navigating mazes.  This is an awesome immersive learning environment, I think everyone in the family learned something while we were in the Woods.

So, after Mastodons, Native Americans, Polar bears, Model T’s, a river boat, a mock downtown, multiple machine shops, dinosaurs, the Ice Age, a cave and a forest, one might think that we had exhausted the museum opportunities.  But fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, for tired parents there are still a ton of learning opportunities.  So, since we were running out of time, we chose to spend our last hour in the water dynamics room.  This area has a series of hands on experiments to help children learn about how water can be managed and best used for energy production, environmental maintenance and transportation.  This exhibit was even cool enough to get my thirteen year old playing with a group of kindergartners.

Okay, I have to admit, after six hours at the museum, even overachiever parents are ready to hit the road!  So it’s back to Winchester for the Dennis family.

Now remember, you are a ROLE MODEL, so get out there and do some educating!

Hope you enjoyed my blog,

Stonnie Dennis

From → Home Schooling

  1. sarah carey permalink

    So glad you guys made it. It is one of our favorite spots. Did you make it upstairs to the old train control room area? Its so cool up there you can see where all the tracks come in and intersect and how they used to manage it all!

    • By the time we got to the water works, I was pretty well done for the day. But that’s definitely on my list for next time. That and Dewey’s pizza!

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