Make the Drive for Summer Fun at the Science Mill in Johnson City, TX
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with the Science Mill. All opinions are my own … and my kids’ because they aren’t afraid to share them.
Looking for some summer fun, my boys and I made the scenic drive from San Antonio, TX to Johnson City, TX to spend a day at the Science Mill. Since we love to learn about science, technology, and art while playing, this is an ideal spot for us to explore. The Science Mill has many hands-on, interactive exhibits that blend art, kinetic technology, augmented reality and computer gaming. Interactive exhibits are important because this is how our kids begin to learn how things work.
See the Science Mill Through a Kid’s Eyes
Here’s a video from my son’s perspective. He wore Snap Spectacles during this visit and recorded his experience at the Science Mill. Obviously, my son is already a much better vlogger than I’ll ever be.
However, one of my favorite things about the Science Mill is that it is both indoors and outdoors. The boys enjoyed a few rounds of tug of war outside, as well as, digging for fossils. Plus, the tortoises’ home is outside and there are a few other exhibits including the Giant Wave Pendulum. Since we love the outdoors, this place feels like home.
A Few Favorite Exhibits at the Science Mill
Build a custom racecar at the pit garage and race against others on a 25-foot track in this exciting design-build challenge. Learn the basics of simple machines and think like an engineer to build a speedy car that breaks all the records.
We had fun with this one because our first cars didn’t move as quickly as we wanted them to. So, we were able to experiment with different parts and customize our cars. The boys had to build and test to finally get the speed they wanted.
We saw Flight of the Butterflies – an interconnected scientific adventure story that spans not only thousands of miles but generations. My youngest son said that the 3D movie was his favorite exhibit! I don’t blame him. It was breathtaking and still informative. I admit that I, too, had my hand out because there were moments when I thought those beautiful butterflies might just land on us.
Currently, the featured 3D movie is Flying Monsters and you can watch the trailer on YouTube.
Virtual Body Table
A visit to this exhibit allows you to interact with human and animal bodies like never before. Using hand gestures and a 60-inch touch screen display, viewers can swipe, zoom and slice the images to gain a deeper understanding into the functions and processes inside the human body as well as five different animals: chimpanzee, golden eagle, grey seal, lion and moose. The visuals on display were collected using computerized tomography (also known as CT) scan technology that captures a series of image ‘slices’ to create the overall 3D image.
Imagine being able to set a butterfly in your palm or move it around you in space, or to hold a heart in your hand and send a camera through the arteries to see what’s inside. Put on a pair of 3D glasses, use a stylus pen to grab objects and turn them over with a flick of your wrist. Unlike the 3D video seen in a movie theater, you can move your head around an object to look at it from the side or from below.
Two giant African Spurred tortoises, Speedy (male) and Tortilla (female), have taken residency in a beautiful new habitat. Use the iPad in the lobby to peer inside their burrow (via an infrared camera).
We went back a few times to see if the tortoises would come out. Lucky for us, they did! They move much faster than I expected them to. I’m glad we got to see them outside their burrow, too.
Large stones lining a dry creek bed will have hidden fossils cast into the rock, and young visitors can excavate fossils using paleontological tools.
I think we spent most of our time here. Unlike other museums’ fossil digs, this one is outside! It’s much bigger and more fun.
“Silo of McKays” – McKay Otto
This multidimensional art installation, created by local artist McKay Otto, blends art and science in a contemplative sanctuary that heightens visitors’ awareness of light, sound, rhythm, balance, color, and harmony. Seven abstract paintings hang above seven Tibetan singing bowls in the 40-foot silo. The space is carefully lit to enhance the paintings, which reflect the presence of Eastern medicine’s chakra energy centers when the lights are turned off. Sound vibrations offer a chance to feel an inner energy. This is a space for visitors to reflect, think, discover and feel.
Queridos, this art exhibit is cool! It was a bit of a surprise but it is so beautiful and the story connects all the dots between the hanging art, singing bowls, and the chakras. This began a wonderful conversation with my boys about chakras that we continue to have.
The Science Mill is located in Johnson City, TX in the middle of Texas Hill Country. Any road you take in is a scenic road and should be enjoyed. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday; and noon – 5 p.m. on Sunday. Closed on Monday and Tuesday. If you must make a drive to get there and want to stay all day, you can pack your lunch and make a picnic or dine at the Lady Bird Lane Cafe inside the museum. The day trip is completely worth the experience. Go have some fun!