Get Your Virtual Science on at Home with World-class Museums at Your Fingertips
Social distancing, quarantining, sheltering in place… Chances are, you’re currently doing one of the above due to the coronavirus pandemic. We’re not making light of what’s going on; it’s serious, and these are tough times. Sometimes, though, we just need to get away from the headlines and numbers for a little bit, which might mean digging into a tub of cookie dough while binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix… and that’s okay! But we’ve got an alternative for you.
All over the world, museums, zoos, aquariums and other cultural institutions have closed their physical doors for the time being, but their virtual doors are wide open, and they’ve got some amazing online tours, classes and lessons, sneak-peaks, webcams, at-home activities and more for kids and adults alike—all available for free. In this article, we’re going to "take" you to some of the top science museums in the country and show you around.
American Museum of Natural History (New York City)
American Museum of Natural History’s Facebook page is a hub of activity! Check it out daily for the Exhibit of the Day as well as the #AMNHDailyLesson, a resource for parents and educators. And each Tuesday and Thursday at 2pm ET, catch them live for hall tours, inside look at the collections, and more. You’ll also find fun watch parties from time to time, like this one, all about space vs. dinos:
Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University (Philadelphia)
Academy of Natural Sciences has some great ideas on their Facebook page for fun, hands-on science activities that are easy to do with materials you probably already have at home (so you don’t have to go out!). You’ll also find stories, articles and fun videos like this one of Lulu the sloth touring the Dinosaur Hall.
Museum of Science (Boston)Museum of Science has a great series of live "Ask A Scientist" events, including topics such as "Ask a Scientist: Space," "Ask a Scientist: COVID-19," "Ask a Scientist: Space," and more, all accessible via their Facebook page. They even provide Zoom links for viewers to submit live questions! MOS has also launched a virtual museum on their website. You’ll find multiple live presentations throughout the day, creative engineering projects, podcasts, kid-friendly activities, and more, with content updated daily.
Adler Planetarium (Chicago)
Adler Planetarium’s social pages are full of awesome resources, like "Astronomy in 3 Minutes" videos, behind-the-scenes videos with Collections Manager Chris, opportunities to #AskAdler scientists questions about space, and lots of other fun digital STEAM resources like printable constellation coloring pages. Don’t forget to #LookUp!
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Field Museum (Chicago)You’ll find lots of ways to experience the Field Museum at home on their social pages. Ask questions of experts, watch episodes of The Brain Scoop, explore nature identification guides, and get creative with hands-on science activities. And don’t miss the antics of Sue the T. rex while she has the museum to herself!
Exploratorium (San Francisco)
Museum of Science and Industry (Tampa Bay)
Virtual MOSI happens every weekday live at 1:30pm ET on their MOSI In Motion social pages, including demonstrations of hands-on activities to do at home, plus time for questions and answers. Field trip Fridays are extra special, with live explorations of the museum’s exhibits.
Pacific Science Center (Seattle)
Pacific Science Center wants you to be curious at home, and they have lots for you to be curious about! They’re updating their Curiosity at Home page often with new activities, science shows, videos and other resources that’ll keep the whole family’s wheels spinning.
California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco)
Start your morning with Cal Academy's Breakfast Club—live, informal talks with experts on their Facebook page (you’ll also find lots of other opportunities for Q&A there, both in live streams and posts.). And don’t forget their live penguin cam!
Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)
It might not be summer yet, but it’s a great time to try some of Museum of Science and Industry’s Summer Brain Games, found on their YouTube channel.
Ontario Science Centre (Toronto)
Ontario Science Centre is bringing the big screen to your living room with free access to three family-friendly educational films until June 15: Dinosaurs Alive!, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs and Wild Ocean. Each film runs for approximately 40 minutes. The best part? Each film comes with a downloadable education guide that includes easy-to-do activities for those who’d like to delve a little deeper into the subject matter. Plus, you’ll find cool science experiments and insider info on their Facebook page.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History (Atlanta)
Fernbank has a plethora of awesome #MuseumAtHome content on their social pages. Storytime is great for younger kids (and maybe even adults!), while the whole family will enjoy animal explorations and science projects, like how to make a cloud in a bottle.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science (Dallas)
Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Denver)
Denver Museum of Nature and Science is having a #DMNSScienceParty on their social pages! Find at-home experiments, Daily Lesson videos on all sorts of topics, an insider view into an exciting new exhibit, and even… cockroaches?
Houston Museum of Nature and Science (Houston)
You can experience #HMNSatHome on their social channels! Find at-home activities, video lessons, and fun insider info. Just watch out for dinosaurs on the loose!
Franklin Institute (Philadelphia)
Stay connected and feed your curiosity with Franklin@Home, the all-new digital science offerings from The Franklin Institute. Take a virtual tour of the Giant Heart, explore NightSkies@Home, and get your daily dose of live science, experiments and recipes. And keep your eyes open for digital happy hours, including a chance for Q&A with a Franklin Institute scientist!
Harvard Museum of Natural History (Boston)
Watch Harvard faculty and other noted scientists share their discoveries and learn about topics ranging from parasitic fungi and swarming bees on HMNH’s website, and follow the museum on Facebook for all kinds of fun and engaging science content, like neanderthal rope making and invisible organisms.
Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto)
From dinosaurs to mummies, Chinese architecture to Indigenous objects, and meteorites to precious jewels, Royal Ontario Museum has a world-class collection of art, culture, and nature from around the world and across the ages, much of it available online. For immersive views into exhibits and collections, visit ROM on Google Arts and Culture; you can even "stroll" through exhibit halls. You'll find fun activities (like making a mummy case!) and a virtual tour on ROM's website.