Amber is a stay-at-home mom to two girls and wife of a medical school student. They recently moved to Eastern Tennessee for school and are having a blast discovering Knoxville and surrounding areas. She also blogs at Because Babies Grow Up talking about play, literacy, and music for the under-five crowd.

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American Museum of Science and Energy Review

Earlier this month we visited the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge. In preparing for our trip, I browsed through their website. I was most intrigued by the price, only $5 for adults and children under 5 are free. I was also excited about the Moneyville exhibit and hoped it would be something my young girls could enjoy.

First Impressions

It was very inviting. Outside the front doors are situated two whisper dishes. We had fun splitting ourselves into two groups and each standing at one end, taking turns talking and listening. The girls were fascinated by how well they could hear, but how it also sounded like a whisper.

Once inside, we were greeted by a very friendly worker who welcomed us and got us off on the right foot. Then we entered the foyer which was big and open. There were some fun puzzles to do as we made our way to the stairs. We had a lot of fun putting together a dinosaur puzzle that was on a wall. Even the little ones enjoyed finding pieces and helping us hold everything in place as we looked for the next piece.

The Exhibits

We all really enjoyed the first exhibit we came across that had a variety of typical science principles in action. There was an electricity ball, a rowing machine, fun house mirrors and a light sensitive screen that captures your shadow. It was the perfect sized room to let our girls run around and explore on their own without getting too far away from us.

We also spent a good deal of time in the Moneyville room. The littlest ones loved the grocery store and bank areas. They had fun filling their baskets and then exchanging money at the bank. These were great areas for lots of kids to interact together even if they didn’t know each other. We watched lots of kids run the grocery store and check out girls out, or come to the bank and get money out while our girls were the bankers. There were enough roles for the kids to play that everyone had an enjoyable time and rotated often.

After wandering through the World of the Atom, we found a little corner with a play house, a couple of puzzles and lots of toys for little ones. There was also a bench for us moms to rest on while the little ones played away. This little corner was a big hit with our little crowd and i’m so glad we found it. It’s up the stairs and through the exhibit to the left. I’m definitely glad we found this little treasure. It was the only time I stood still long enough to get some pictures!

Last Impressions and Recommendations

As we were leaving, my friend commented to me that she had more fun than her daughter did, probably. i felt the same way. The museum was well suited to accommodate a wide range of ages at the same time. We felt like we got to do something for ourselves, not just something for our children. That’s a big bonus when most of our activities are centered around our kids.

When we first arrived at the museum, there were several student groups there from various schools. They were all very pleasant, but the rooms were generally a bit crowded. But just about noon they all left for their lunch times and we had the museum practically to ourselves. If you’re interested in a quieter museum experience, I suggest a school day around lunch time.

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