You only need to look around an airport to see how captivated kids are with flying. Amidst the grumpy business travelers and exhausted parents (we feel you, mom), you’ll always find a few beyond-excited little ones taking in the arriving and departing planes with glee.
The folks at the Museum of Science& Industry must have been doing some traveling lately, because its new exhibit, Above& Beyond, perfectly capitalizes on this fascination with flight, exploring innovations in aerospace over the past 100 years (and celebrating 100 years of exhibit sponsor Boeing).
Most kids will gravitate toward the interactive feature that lets you design – and virtually fly – a supersonic fighter jet. And even if your littles aren’t exactly on-board for the whole experience, it does make for a pretty cute photo op of your mini-pilot.
My four-year-old nephew and I most enjoyed the area where you can fly like a bird thanks to motion-sensing technology (spoiler alert: you can’t not look goofy when you’re vigorously flapping your arms). But kids will also like the simulated space elevator that shows you what it’s like to blast off in an honest-to-goodness space shuttle, an interactive timeline of flight and space developments and video game-esque demonstrations of what it’s like to fly in different vessels (I dug the hot air balloon).
Plus, don’t miss the very cool model of an early seaplane, the predecessor of our modern jets, at the opening of the exhibit.
Above and Beyond is most likely to appeal to older kids in late-elementary or middle school (my four-year-old was a little overwhelmed), but it can easily be paired with some of the museum’s other transportation-themed exhibits, like the Henry Crown Space Center and the Transportation Gallery, if you have kids in multiple age groups.
So if your kids are flight-obsessed, don’t walk, fly to MSI as fast as you can. The exhibit is only there through Jan. 8, before it blasts off on its North American tour. But be sure to fasten your seatbelts for some fun that’s beyond.