When we were kids, my sister and I always looked forward to visiting museums and science exhibits. I remember family outings to the old planetarium in Rizal Park, the Dinosaurs Exhibit and Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Shangri-la (anyone remember this?). I also got to visit the Science Center in Singapore during a trip there a few years ago. I’ve been wanting to check out The Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, the first wold-class Science museum in the Philippines, ever since it opened to the public in March 2012. It’s only appropriate that the trip was a family affair, this time with the next generation.
A couple of weekends ago, I invited my sister Lorie and her son Eli (age, almost 4), cousin Roxy and daughter Annie (age 7) for a kid’s playdate. We’ve been looking for fun places to take the kids, especially during this rainy season when parks and outdoor areas are not ideal, so the visit to Mind Museum on a stormy Saturday afternoon was perfect.
The Mind Museum currently contains over 250 interactive exhibits in five galleries with the themes Atom, Earth, Life, Universe and Technology. Visitors can explore the museum at their own pace (no guided tours) in fixed three-hour intervals & time-slots to ensure maximum enjoyment.
We first headed to the Earth Gallery, which tells the story of the planet and our archipelago across time. This gallery includes a 3D animated film made by an all-Filipino crew that features 4.6 billion years of the planet’s natural history and the evolution in 12 minutes. The most fascinating part of the gallery is the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex towering over the rest of the exhibits. Cast from real fossils, this is the first permanent T-Rex exhibit in the country. Cue Jurassic Park theme park Music.
The museum’s resident T-Rex is dubbed Stan, after Stan Sacrison, an amateur paleontologist who discovered the most complete male T.rex skeleton ever unearthed. Interestingly, according to Unearthing T. Rex, Stan was only eight years old when he found his first dinosaur fossil! Underneath Stan is a small area that contains a “fossil dig” where kids can pretend to be fossil hunters themselves.
The Earth Gallery also contains other unique exhibits that focus on forces at work in shaping and reshaping the Earth. There’s an exhibit showing the effect of earthquakes, a tube where you can pass your hand over and watch a tornado form, and models illustrating the different geological ages.
I spotted this Lara Croft reference in the section on how to become a fossil. Looks like one of the exhibit engineers is a fan of Tomb Raider.
The Universe Gallery, which features the “mysterious vastness of the universe and holds clues to where we came from and where we are going” was definitely our favorite gallery of the museum.
The ceiling of the gallery is a dome with star-like lights and there are interactive exhibits showing how astronauts dress in space, the life cycle of stars, the different constellations, phases of the moon, vehicles on mars and other cool space-related concepts.
This section also contains the spaceshell, a tiny custom-built planetarium. Visitors get a taste of stargazing by lying down on reclining couches and watching shows projected on the dome in the ceiling. All the chairs were occupied when we first checked it out, so we went back here and caught the last show of “Life: A Cosmic Story” before heading out. The 20-minute long show gives a glimpse of how life on Earth began from turbulent star and planet-forming molecular clouds to the microscopic activity of photosynthesis.
Connecting the Earth Gallery to the Universe Gallery was a small tunnel with stars painted on a tube that rotates as you cross. Staring at the stars too long can make you dizzy, but for some reason Eli loved this and kept wanting to run back and forth. It makes for a great star trails shot.
The Atom Gallery contains exhibit pieces that show the world of the very small in terms of forces and particles and explains elemental forces that we often take for granted like gravity and electromagnetism. The kids loved the colorful game area where you can create your own atom allotrope (different structural modifications of an element).
Aside from containing the most number of interactive exhibits, this gallery also has the most popular exhibit – the hair-standing Van de Graaf Ball. The device, which resembles a large metal ball on a pedestal, demonstrates how electrostatic energy works. Visitors just put their hands on the metal ball to get a hair-raising experience. The effect is really best seen on people with long and untied hair. The guide operating this exhibit suggested we shake our hair out beforehand for a more dramatic effect.
Other points of interest in the Atom Gallery are a sculptural exhibit deconstructing the molecules, atoms and quarks in a chocolate bar, a shadow box where you can pose against a wall and it leaves an imprint of your shadow for a while, and a model of Newton’s Cradle, a device that demonstrates conservation of momentum and energy via a series of swinging spheres.
Newton’s Cradle demonstrates Newton’s Third Law of Motion at work: for every action, that there is an equal or opposite reaction. Anyone else notice this reference in the movie Pacific Rim?
The Life Gallery showcases all forms of living things – from microbes to large animals and what makes them work. Hanging overhead was a life-sized whale shark (known locally as butanding).
A colorful web of life exhibit shows the variety of animal diets that separates prey from predators, and a series of beach balls floating in the air demonstrate Bernoulli’s Principle of air travel. One of the largest exhibits on display at the museum is a model of the human brain , where you can identify what part of the brain lights up when you sense, feel or think.
There’s also an oversized cell that offers a tactile and visual encounter of its components. If you have kids and want to introduce them to concepts found in a cell like Mitochondria and Farandolae, let them read Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wind in the Door” (a partner book to A Wrinkle in Time). This young adult science fantasy novel connects cosmic evil to evil on a cellular level. What better way to learn about science, right?
There were various models showing technological concepts, tools, and modern gadgets that have evolved over time. The kids enjoyed operating all the cranks to produce electricity, pressing switches that would turn fans on and off, and moving model farm tools back and forth.
This section also contained a few interactive arcade games and an elliptical billiard table that older kids will probably enjoy playing with.
All that walking around and trying out the exhibits (but mostly chasing after Eli) got us hungry. Good thing the museum has its own snack bar. The latest addition to The Mind Museum is Kyle’s Lab, a cafe/kiosk that serves science-themed snacks and drinks created by Kyle Imao, the young chef who won Junior Master Chef Pinoy Edition 2 years ago.
The kiosk resembles a food laboratory with beakers, lab equipment and a plasma ball right on the counter. Even the numbers on the tables are named after chemicals. The place serves creative child-friendly dishes like Pesto Cheese Dinosaurs, Octo-dogs, Animal Chocolates, waffles and even cronuts (out of stock during our visit).
We ordered some waffles topped with whipped cream & chocolate sauce and a mini-pizza. The Strawberry Iced Tea with Popping Spheres was excellent. Instead of ordinary pearls or sago, the drink contains tiny spheres that burst open with juice when you bite into them. Apparently, 13-year old Kyle learned to make this in molecular gastronomy class. Pretty cool!
THE MIND MUSEUM SOUVENIR SHOP
Before heading out, we stopped by the Mind Museum souvenir shop, which sells some great educational toys, 3D puzzles, brainteasers and books for kids. They also sell some geeky t-shirts, tumblers and other souvenir items here. If you’re looking for educational toys and gifts, you should check out this place.
Another bonus feature of The Mind Museum is the Outdoor Science-in-the-Park, where visitors can experience playful science through – music, math, living and water. Just present your tickets to the guards here and entrance is free. It has everything kids love – including a Mobius strip-inspired slide and a device for making a large bubble appear around you.
All in all, kids and adults alike had a really fun time at The Mind Museum. I highly recommend this to anyone who hasn’t been here yet. Another cool thing about the museum is that ticket prices are subsidized, so public school students and teachers only have to pay P150. Regular rates, museum hours & other useful information can be found below.
TICKET PRICES & TIME SLOTS
The Mind Museum is located in JY Campos Park, 3rd Ave. Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines
- Museum hours: Open from Tuesday to Sundays (closed Mondays)
- Timeslots: 9am-12nn, 12nn-3pm, 3pm-6pm
- Additional timeslot on Saturdays: 6pm-9pm
- Ticket prices: Adults: P600, *Children & students (up to college) – P450, Public school students (up to college) – P150, Teachers – P150, All Day Pass (enter any time, no 3-hour maximum) – P750
- *Children 2 feet and below are free
- Website: www.themindmuseum.org
- Facebook Page: The Mind Museum
SPECIAL EXHIBITION – Da Vinci: The Genius
From 1 September to 30 November 2013, The Mind Museum will be having a special exhibit featuring the most comprehensive exhibit on the life and works of Leonardo da Vinci. Expect to see life-sized, interactive replicas of his inventions: the bicycle, the glider, scuba-diving equipment, tank and more, faithfully crafted by Italian artisans. Reproductions of his amazingly accurate & detailed anatomical drawings will also be dislpayed. The Da Vinci — The Genius exhibit in Manila will include 3D features on his art works: Vitruvian Man, Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. For updates on this exhibit, click here to join the event page on Facebook.