Chicago families can uncover nature’s wonders at new Field exhibit

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.

If you go

  • The Machine Inside: Biomechanics is open now through Jan.
  • The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
  • (312) 922-9410
  • Tickets to the exhibit are included in both Discovery and
    All-Access passes.

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 few.)

“It’s a testament to how nature influences innovation,” says David Parry, the vice chairman of ITW, the lead sponsor of the exhibit.

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 exhibit:

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