As family friendly, educational museums go, the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia has got to be one of the best. Packed full of interesting and interactive exhibits, perfectly tailored to kids. Built in honour of one of Americas most famous scientists – Benjamin Franklin, the Institute is one of the oldest and best centers for science education and development in the USA. We had so much fun on our recent visit, here’s our complete review.
Located in Center City Philadelphia, at the intersection of 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Franklin Institute is easy to walk to from most parts of the city but if your little ones are likely to get tired legs I highly recommend the Phlash bus which runs every 5 minutes, to most parts of the city and is just $5 for a full days pass. Make sure you have cash to purchase your pass on the bus, it will save you a $1.50 online fee. The Franklin Institute is stop number 15.
My favourite part of the museum was the section dedicated to the Brain. You could probably spend a morning in there alone.
If you have active kids they will love the neural climb, an 18 ft tall climbing structure which is fast overtaking the iconic giant heart exhibit as a firm family favourite.
Piper tried out the virtual reality headsets, I think this one was exploring a human body, it was so strange watching her follow what she was seeing whilst I had no idea what was on her screen!
Another must for active kids is SportsZone, a completely interactive area designed to raise many interesting questions around the world of sports, see how much protection a footballers helmet provides, test your reactions at the ping pong wall or perfect your baseball throw as you watch your pitch technique played back.
See how high you can jump from either a standing position or a running start or race virtual professional atheletes in the 40-foot long race challenge
In Changing Earth, we learn all about our planet, how Tectonic plates drift, the crust quakes, and volcanoes erupt. It’s a fantastic exhibit to get little brains thinking about our impact on the planet, learn about the growing population and understand our responses to various natural disasters. Such a great way to ensure the next generation focusses on saving the planet rather than taking it for granted.
The Giant Heart is perhaps the most famous exhibit at the museum, it’s a 5,000 square foot hollow structure which you can wander through as if you were a blood cell. A fab learning opportunity but unfortunately Piper hated it as it was pretty dark and she could not see a way out – it was all over pretty quickly though.
Surrounding the heart are many other interactive exhibits dedicated to the anatomy and physiology of the human body. There’s a huge focus on health and well being which makes visiting with the kids well worth while, they will learn all about blood cells, see how much blood is in their body, the heart sizes of various animals and what happens to their body as they exercise.
Some of the exhibits are a bit gory – such as open heart surgery, Piper loved it and found it totally fascinating but you can easily skip these parts if you (or your little ones) are a bit squeamish.
Sir Isaac’s Loft brings Newtons theories to life, here you can play with forces and motion using levers and pulleys to lift your own body.
Another favourite of ours was the Franklin Air Show which introduces you to the history and technology of flight!
Piper got to climb into a suspended plane, attempt to fly a kite, learnt how to design a commercial airplane and experienced airflow holding giant foam wings.
We only popped in to the 3D printing area but it was fascinating to see such new technology upclose, something I am sure will become a normal part of Piper’s life.
The Institute has an onsite café called the Franklin Foodworks which serves homemade soup, nuggets, salads and sandwiches with reasonable (ish) prices. We just bought some dip n dots so I can’t comment on the quality.
The Franklin Musum also have a daily schedule of additional activities and shows such as dissections, 3D printing, simulators, movies, & more. You can check out what’s on during your visit here. https://www.fi.edu/dailyschedule
When we visited Piper was lucky enough to make paper and investigate fossils, all the staff we came across were extremely child friendly and very knowledgeable. She had a hoot and treasures that tiny bit of paper she got to bring home.
The Franklin Institute
222 North 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Open Daily 9:30am – 5:00pm
Adult tickets $20
Kids up to 12 $16
Ages 2 and under are free
Tickets to special events and films are additional
1 - 4 hours
$18.00 – although you may be able to find a spot on a nearby metered road for cheaper.
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