Sunday, September 11, 2005

Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences

You may have seen their ads on Metro asking questions like Do Cows Really Cause Global Warming? If you're a wannabe science nerd like me, maybe they'll suck you into this modern and attractive museum on 5th Street in Chinatown.

Although Washingtonians, spoiled by free access to world-class Smithsonian museums, tend to frown upon museum entrance fees, the $5 admission to the Koshland Science Museum is a steal. (If you're still turning up your nose at the admission fee, print a $1 off coupon from the museum's website, or bring your student ID for $2 off.) The museum is packed with hi-tech, interactive exhibits that manage to be fun and interesting without stooping to the low intellectual standards of FOX 5 News.

The museum's topical exhibits are also highly relevant to the issues that face our world. The audio guide (which is free with admission) introduces the museum and the National Academy of Sciences, telling visitors (to paraphrase) that the Academy has no ax to grind, except possibly that policy decisions should be based on science.

We spent most of our time at the museum in the Global Warming Facts & Our Future exhibit, which was a highly scientific but accessible overview of the science and issues around global warming and the global climate. Covering both how humans impact the global climate and how global climate change impacts us, this exhibit is an excellent overview of a real problem that will shape the 21st century and human history.

You won't find long lines at the Koshland Science Museum, which only opened in April last year. The museum received remarkably few visitors -- only two groups besides us -- in the ninety minutes we spent there on a Saturday afternoon. Plus, Chinatown certainly offers better post-museum dining than the National Mall. So check it out before the tourists take over, and you're bound to learn something new.


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