International Museum of Surgical Science
1524 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
Amputation demonstrations, a working iron lung and a creaky
elevator in an old, old building. Sound like a destination that's
definitely not for children?
Think again. Chicago's International Museum of Surgical Science
has created a new exhibit, RX for Success, to reach out to kids as
young as 8 and hopefully convince some of them to consider careers
in health care.
"A lot of kids in middle school are struggling around that time
thinking, oh, math and science aren't for me, especially girls,"
says Kristen Vogt, museum manager of education and events. "One
thing that inspired us with this exhibit is that there's multiple
paths to medicine. We also have a nursing exhibit and the success
of this led to RX for Success."
The exhibit includes hands-on activities for children, including
interactive iPads, make your own blood and decode the disease
games, as well as information on the many careers in health
The rest of the museum, which is housed in an Edwardian mansion
built in 1917, includes an interactive pharmacy from the turn of
the 19th century, plus everything from skulls to giant kidney
stones to medical equipment from the 1800s.
Vogt says one of the reasons the medical information presented
isn't scary is because of the warm and inviting atmosphere of the
"I've had people say, 'Oh, we expected this to be really scary,"
she says. "We do have things that could be creepy but because of
the warm atmosphere of the museum, it gives it a warmer glow. We
have bladder stones and kidney stones and it's in an inviting room,
which is weird to say, but you don't feel haunted or scared."
Vogt recommends the museum for families with kids 8 and up, but
reminds parents that it's best to take into account your child's
personality when making the decision to visit. If you bring younger
children with, there's also a large ballroom on the second floor
where kids can run around and another room that's perfect for
nursing. Also, there's not really anything in the museum that's "no
touch" so you don't have to spend the whole time worrying about
what younger children might get into.
The only thing to worry about is the creaky elevator. "I had a
mother with two boys about 8 or 9 and they were having a blast…they
liked the old dentist office," Vogt says. "Then they came to this
old elevator from 1917 and one of the boys who'd just been
chattering about amputations and skeletons began crying and said it
was scary and haunted."
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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