5 Fun Science Experiences at The Franklin Institute

My family enjoys living in Philadelphia. There’s so much to experience here because it’s immersed in history, science, art, and culture. We are conveniently located near all the major museums that our city offers. As a matter of fact, my husband and I have been living here all our life and enjoyed various attractions growing up that we now enjoy with our family. One of our favorite museums to visit was The Franklin Institute, and now it’s a favorite of our children. It is conveniently located in the center of Philadelphia, at the intersection of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 20th Street. This cool science museum is perfect for my family because it can be enjoyed by all ages.

The Franklin Institute is a leader in science education and research. It was established in 1824 and named after Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s greatest scientists. People from all over the world make it their goal to explore the museum when they visit Philadelphia. It has become one of Philadelphia’s top attractions for tourists and city residents. The museum fulfilled its goal of being a facility that will educate its visitors on science and technology through exciting hands-on activities geared towards all ages. When you visit, be prepared to learn and explore The Franklin Institute’s three floors of exhibits.

My family loves science museums — The Franklin Institute being one of them because of the fun hands-on educational opportunities. Learning about science is far from boring and the institute has a way of teaching their visitors about all things science in a way that’s interesting for all. My family never felt uncomfortable visiting the museum with our young children because they were invited to “touch and feel.” Hands-on learning has always been important to me because learning through play is the best way for young children to learn. I never had to worry about getting the side-eye when my children touched an artifact. At the Franklin Institute, all your senses are exercised. There are so many exciting exhibits for the family to experience at The Franklin Institute — come learn about some of them!

The Train Factory

What child do you know who doesn’t like trains? Most children do! My older children always enjoyed learning about trains, and Ayden isn’t any different. I enjoy observing him play with his trains at home. I encourage his love of trains and extend his learning through books, videos, riding trains, and opportunities to explore trains at The Franklin Institute.  At the museum, kids have a chance to get up close with trains and learn how they operate. They participate in pretend play as being the engineer of the train. How cool is that? Kids are excited to board the 350-ton Baldwin 6000 steam locomotive at the Institute. At the train factory, children will hear the various sounds and feel the steam of locomotives while learning about the science and technology behind trains. This exhibit provides visitors a chance to learn about the design, friction, energy, pressure, and magnetic force of locomotives. When children play with trains at home or school or if they ever ride a real train, they will then understand what’s involved in the engineering of it.


The Franklin Air Show

I love the fact that the Franklin Institute can help children learn about the things they experience in real life! My family had the opportunity to travel on an airplane before and we often wondered about the mechanics behind aircrafts. This exhibit allows their guests to put their piloting skills to work while learning about the history and technology of flying. You will experience the sounds of planes as you explore the basics of aeronautics and the stories and artifacts of early aviators such as the Tuskegee Airmen, Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, and the Wright Brothers. You will learn how to control the airflow for a flight and stand in front of a huge fan while feeling the force of a lift off. One of the coolest things to look at is the 1911 Wright Model B Flyer. Did you know that the actual aircraft like the one at the museum was the first to fly non-stop from Philadelphia to Atlantic City? My kids’ favorite experience at The Franklin Air Show is climbing inside of a 1948 T-33 Jet Trainer and operate real jet controls. Talk about fun, fun, fun!


The Space Command

There’s a lot of exciting things to do in this section. Guests will learn about the phases of the Moon and will have the opportunity to see the actual Moon Rock that was recovered by an astronaut named Dave Scott during his Apollo 15 mission. Experiences in this exhibit include studying planets; learning about the sun and nighttime sky; the force of gravity; and touching a meteorite, probably the oldest thing you’ll ever touch. One cool activity is creating a rover and watching it roll down a rocky terrain. I usually have a hard time getting my kids to move on to the next adventure because they really enjoy constructing rovers and seeing which rover can reach the bottom the fastest. This is a perfect time for me to take a seat on the nearby bench and observe them playing and learning.


The Brain

The Franklin Institute’s largest exhibition is The Brain, and there’s so much to learn in this area! If you ever wondered how your brain works, this is the perfect opportunity to find out. Thanks to the museum keeping all ages in mind when creating their exhibits, even the youngest person in your family will walk away knowing how their brain works. When I first learned about brain development, I had to remember all those complicated words and processes — the museum makes it easier! Visitors will have the opportunity to see brain imaging technologies in effect by looking at a digital collage and brain visualizations. The brain is always changing, and learning about those changes is important because of the impact it makes on our society. Kids will have fun using their gross-motor skills climbing through a two-story structure with cool lighting and sound effects to show how the neurons in our brain interconnect. What a cool way to learn about neuroscience!


The Sports Zone

Do you want to get your kids moving more? Look no further! Science probably isn’t the first word that comes to your child’s mind when discussing sports, but science has much to do with it. The Sports Zone will have your whole family moving while learning how sports is connected to science through the human body, laws of motion, and innovative technology. Visitors can delve into the science and technology of physical fitness, healthy eating, sports equipment, and proper safety while they play. The exhibit includes many interactive experiences to help families learn the connection between science and sports, such as: energy goal, body in motion, drink analysis, bike efficiency, helmet test, bike gears, ski shape, race against professional athletes, test your jump, form a pitch, surfboard balance, and splash dynamics demo. If you have sports fans in your family, this exhibit alone is worth the visit to The Franklin Institute!


These five experiences are just some of what The Franklin Institute offers. There are so many  adventures waiting for families. Have you been to this cool science museum? What are some of your family’s favorite experiences there?



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