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Filed under: Family Day Trips, Family Weekend Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, Kid-Friendly Trips, Kid-Friendly Trips, RV Home School

Mobile, Alabama – 3 Incredible Destinations in one block…

March 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

DSC_0781_244The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Mobile is an incredible children’s science museum – but it isn’t just for kids!  We went on a week day in January; there were a few small school groups when we arrived, but they soon left, and after that we shared it with just a few families, and multiple adult couples of varying ages (who were enjoying it just as much as our tribe was!).  I would totally go here on a date with my hubby! LOL!
The museum has it’s own IMax Dome museum (one of only 50 in the world); you sit in steep theater seating, and the screen wraps around you, from down to the floor in front, up and around both sides, and curves over the ceiling above you.
We watched Flight of the Butterflies, but of course films rotate out; you can see what’s playing via their website (link at end)!
DSC_0571_034While we were there, one of the staff, Bree, did some experiments for us; she was great!  For her first demo, she had 3 empty plastic cups (not see through), and she poured some water in one of them.  She would then switch them around quickly and ask the kids which one had the water in it. The kids would guess and she would turn over that cup and repeat – soon all 3 cups were turned upside down with not a drop of water in sight!!!  I won’t tell you how she did it, since I don’t want to ruin the surprise for when YOU go to the Exploreum, but it was fun, and Bree then showed the kids how she did it and explained why the demo worked the way it did.    She also blew up a coffee can for us!  :D
DSC_0583_046In the Kids’ Lab room, there are several tanks with live reptiles in them (an albino bullsnake named Gandalf, a spiny tail lizard, and the most adorable baby alligator! – among others).Right next to the Kids’ Lab, is an area called Wharf of Wonder.  WoW is The Cutest and most imaginative toddler area we have ever come across!  WoW is a themed, walled off area, with a child-proof gate (parents must still be in the area with their littles).  Designed to mimic a wharf, it includes a fishing boat, the SS Crichton, for the kids to pilot through the surrounding sea of water (blue and green ball pit!).

DSC_0671_134In this wing of the museum is also a machines area.   In here are all sorts of mechanical activities, all with lesson challenges and information on why things work the way they do.  This big lever was our favorite, and we tried it over and over!  The kids would get on opposing sides, and have a tug-o-war.  Notice how the ropes are attached to the lever at different lengths from the base.  The length from the fulcrum (base) to the force makes a great difference as to how much energy (force) is needed to move the lever.  The kids had fun learning that the farther you are from your base, the less force you need to do the same job.  The kids would split up, with one or two going to the side that was attached near the end, and all the rest pulling at the rope closest to the fulcrum. One of the bigger boys, on the side with more leverage (farther from the fulcrum) could out pull all the rest of the kids with their shorter span of leverage.   Needless to say, learning basic physics principles in this fashion leaves quite an impression.

DSC_0679_142On the second floor there is a large area that is devoted to fun science experiments.  Each table has one or two science experiments to make, and all the supplies need to complete the project as well as carry out the experiment with it.  Our favorite was building parachutes, then using the 5 wind columns to figure out how the length of the parachute cords, and the strength of the wind, affect the stability of the parachutes.

Our favorite part of the museum is a large wing downstairs that is called My BodyWorks.  This section of the museum has been recently, tactfully redone. DSC_0683_146 Tastefully, even, with the addition of a new cooking lab that will feature classes on healthy cooking!  The rest of the area is engaging and interesting with colorful exhibits, and varied activities – everything from manipulating a 3-D heart with your hands, to measuring different aspects of your physical fitness, and mock grocery shopping for healthy choices, to displays about intensive/invasive healthcare.  It was incredibly educational while being interesting and engaging at the same time.
If you are traveling with kids, the Exploreum could very well consume an entire afternoon (or a whole day for our tribe ;) ). You can check out the Exploreum further by visiting the Exploreum website, or check out more pics from our visit, here.


DSC_0791_254Right next door to the Exploreum is the History Museum of Mobile, which we have heard really great things about (we ended up staying at the Exploreum until they closed, so we didn’t get a chance to check out the museum!).   OK, all 3 destinations aren’t quite on one block, but just across the street from the museum is the free, historic, Fort Conde.
This partial reproduction is home to a city visitor’s center, and offers a great walking tour of a fort.  Given a faceflift in 2010, the lower level of the walls offer a smallish, but very well-done museum about the military history of the area.   We really enjoyed

DSC_0806_269 our visit to Fort Conde, and got some fun photos in the jail cell as well as with some of the displays (which you can view on our blog).  This area of town is not big rig friendly, but there is free vehicle parking behind the Exploreum, or you can pay to park in the fort’s parking lot.

This area of Mobile also offers a ‘downtown’ area with blocks of cute shops and eateries.  You could easily spend a couple of days exploring this part of the city, or do a concise tour of the museum, Exploreum, and fort if you can only spend a day.
Check out Mobile on your way through; lots to see and do here!!!

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