Four years in the making, The Field Museum's new exhibit, The
Machine Inside: Biomechanics, comes with a huge wow factor that
will have your kids busy rushing from room to room testing their
strength, spinning until they are dizzy while attempting to fly,
and trying to finally answer the question, just how does the
giraffe's blood travel up that super long neck to its brain.
Don't let the name fool you into thinking your kids won't like
the exhibit. They are going to love it the moment they walk in and
will talk about what they learned long after they leave. It asks
questions all kids wonder about: How a Venus fly trap knows when a
fly is near, how cheetahs run so fast, how fleas jump so far, how
snakes don't burn as they cross the desert and how woodpeckers
aren't brain damaged with all their pecking.
The exhibit, which pulls in many of the museum's specimens, is
colorful, interactive and fun. It's so full of interesting things
to touch, see and watch that in fact, you could go through it
several times and still discover something new each time. It is in
both English and Spanish.
In addition to taking a try at pumping a giraffe's heart (it's
tough), one of the most popular elements, at least with the
fourth-graders from Sheridan Math and Science Academy who got a
sneak peek, is the one that allows people to "fly" using a regular
office chair and two "wings," one short and one long.
One of the exhibition developers, Marie Georg, says she hopes
the exhibit gets people to look at nature with new eyes. "They can
really feel how the forces of nature really work," she says.
"We have a lot of things meant for the whole family in one area,
so there is something for one person to read, and one person to
look at, one person to touch," she says. Amy Schleser also worked
developing the exhibit.
Georg says the exhibit offers a little bit of something for
every age, including teenagers. Georg's son, 4, particularly loved
the materials interactive where a person can choose bone, a shell
and other materials and have them battle against each other to see
which is stronger.
The real takeaway is how we've adapted elements of nature for
our use (think Velcro, wind turbines and chainsaws, to name a
"It's a testament to how nature influences innovation," says
David Parry, the vice chairman of ITW, the lead sponsor of the
The exhibit is one of the best the museum has unveiled in some
time. It shows, as President Richard Lariviere says, what great
things can happen when the scientists combine their work with that
of the creative exhibit people.
See what two Chicago area 4th graders thought about the
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.
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