All your favorite sci-fi tropes are on display in a new exhibit at the New York Hall of Science. Science Fiction, Science Future is a fun, interactive display that draws from sci-fi movies and books, as well as scientific research, to create a hands-on experience for kids of all ages—and their parents!
Read our review of this STEM-focused new children's museum exhibit with plenty to engage science and technology enthusiasts.
Try to move the ball with your brain waves...Jedi style.
Science Fiction, Science Future features 10 interactive displays that make learning hands-on. For example, one popular station requires that two participants don circular head bands that allow them to move a small, encased ball by pitting their brain waves against each other. (Interestingly, relaxed brain waves are said to move the ball further.) During my visit, many parent-child teams were competing to see who could move the ball the furthest in a spirited competition.
Invisible Me tackled the realm of invisibility. As kids move through a designated space, they disappear from the video screen in front of them. Kids learn that researchers are experimenting with metamaterials, which bend light waves so something appears invisible—but they’ll mostly just think it’s really cool that they can disappear.
A vaguely Muppet-like robot head is also on display, wired to copy a human’s expressions. You open your eyes wide; the robot head opens its eyes wide. Naturally, kids were jostling to give it a try!
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The "Beam Me Up" portion lets kids test out a teleporter!
Beam Me Up—clearly one of the most popular displays—showcases a teleporter device essentially identical to the one in Star Trek. Kids and adults stand on the circular “transporters,” while a bystander hits a button to start the process. No worries, your kids won't actually disappear. Instead, they watch a screen to see themselves “disintegrate” and vanish, which was enough to fascinate participants. I learned that while it’s theoretically possible to teleport a person, it would require an immense number of computers for just one human body. (There goes my hope for avoiding the subway at rush hour!)
Another interactive display, Design a Cyborg, allows guests to try their hand at design by spinning blocks that assemble into different parts on a screen. It’s kind of like a scientific version of Fashion Plates, that old-school game where you put together different tops and bottoms. It attracted a steady stream of children.
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Create and interact with a hologram. Photo courtesy of NYSCI.
In another sci-fi movie staple, kids can receive a hologram message from Titan. As the exhibit explains, it’s actually a faux-hologram, because the real thing is so complex, but little ones delighted in the hovering projection of a spaceship.
Other stations demonstrate things like head-to-toe medical scans and wormholes, which are far in the future. Kids can also draw their take on the future, and post the drawings, which is a nice touch to include children's contributions.
All in all, Science Fiction Science Future is great fun for kids and parents, especially any sci-fi junkies. After all, who doesn’t dream of traveling into space or teleporting where no man has gone before—or even just Tahiti? In the meantime, a trip to Corona to explore this new exhibit will be a fun and educational family outing.
Science Fiction Science Future is currently on display through Sunday, April 30, at the New York Hall of Science, located at 47-01 111th Street in Corona, Queens. The exhibit is included with museum admission. Remember there is FREE admission on Fridays, 2-5pm, and Sundays, 10-11am.
Top photo: Kids peer into a wormhole. Photo courtesy of NYSCI. Unless otherwise noted, photos by the author.