From the pedestrian-activated sculpture of water molecules levitating over the lobby to the dazzling solar system theater on the top floor, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science opening here Dec. 1 aims to inspire careers in science.
The museum embodies an 11-year $185 million privately-funded project named for a $50 million gift honoring Margot and Ross Perot by their five children.
Located downtown, the striking Thom Mayne-designed building is packed with interactive exhibits including a full-body simulator that replicates flying like a bird over treetops and mountains; a machine that lets visitors use their brain waves to move ping pong balls; a track where kids can race against a projected T Rex; a platform mimicking earthquake shakes; and a motion-capture screen that renders body movement into light and shadows and features lessons on Tai Chi and hip hop dancing.
Visitors can crank open a six-foot tall sparkling amethyst geode, build their own bird or stand eye to eye socket with an 80-foot-long skeletal model of an Alamosaurus dinosaur. Still being tweaked is a small theater that resembles an amusement park ride and simulates a journey underground to extract natural gas from shale. Exhibits examine human and animal life, earth and minerals, conservation, weather, sports, robots and more.
“We have got to give our kids opportunity and career choices and help them understand that math and science are fun,” declared museum ceo Nicole Small. “Let’s face it: we don’t even know which jobs we may be preparing our children for, but we do know that they need to be better prepared.