Friday, August 8, 2014

The Franklin Institute: Your Brain


We've been going to The Franklin Institute since we were kids.  Between class trips and family excursions, we actually don't know anyone who hasn't tested scientific laws in Sir Isaac's Loft or sat in the engineer's seat of the Baldwin 60000 In the Train Factory at some point in their life.  It's a right of passage to get mildly electrocuted in the Electricity exhibit (and zap friends and family around you) and explore the famous giant heart (which we're sure used to be a lot more roomy inside when we were younger....).  Now The Franklin Institute brings us an entirely new wing featuring a brand new permanent exhibit: Your Brain.  We couldn't help but wonder what the exhibit would focus on since there are so many different aspects to this part of our body.  It soon became clear: all of them!
The Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion is the largest expansion that The Franklin Institute has ever done, opening up the entire wing located to the left of the Benjamin Franklin Memorial (when you're facing the front of Ben), directly opposite from The Heart.  The new Pavilion not only opens up space for this new (huge!) permanent exhibit, but also makes available a ton of room for additional traveling exhibits (like 101 Inventions and Circus! going on until Sept 1st).  The entrance is impressive and what you find beyond doesn't disappoint.
Your Brain begins in the best starting place - teaching you about the physical brain.  How everything is hooked up and what the basics are.  Keep what you discover in this first room in mind as you travel the rest of the exhibit.  From there you enter the place you've been dying to go since you first spotted pictures of this new exhibit: the neural maze.  Just like in The Heart, you can climb through a giant brain and see how the neural network connects and sends signals.  It's bigger than it looks from underneath and is lots of fun to scramble through.  It you prefer to stay on the ground and observe, you actually get a great visual representation of the workings of this part of the brain as you see people dashing back and forth above you in the maze.
Now that you've got the basics of the brain and have explored it a bit, it's time to see what it's really doing.  From the maze, the exhibit starts to get even more hands on and interactive.  You see what the brain does when it is working properly.  When what it is seeing, hearing,  and feeling is what's really there.  But what happens when the brain receives the wrong information?  What happens when your brain takes the information and translates it into an emotion?  Reach out and feel how your brain translates feeling warm and cold at the same time (ouch!).  Or what it thinks about you walking underneath a precariously hanging piano (uh oh!).
Enter The Brain Borough: Your Hometown Upside Down to discover what happens when the brain contradicts itself.  It's a Main Street of optical illusions where nothing is quite what it seems.  Every building and storefront is another way to "trick" the brain into thinking its seeing or hearing something else.  Discover even more why this happens in the next room where you learn how your brain fills in the blanks, how it remembers and recognizes things, and how it all translates the information back to you.
With Your Brain, The Franklin Institute has stayed true to its immersive teaching exhibits, and we believe it has even taken itself up a notch with these amazing and interactive new additions.  Fun and interesting from beginning to end, Your Brain is an experience that everyone will enjoy.  A new right of passage at the timeless Franklin Institute.

Daily Vacationer loved our time at the new Your Brain exhibit
so much that we are giving away a 4 Pack of Tickets to
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  1. The last time I went was when I was a kid, and remember the Heart exhibit being my absolute favorite! Not sure if it is still there though!

  2. We have never been! so I'm not sure what my fav would be

  3. I haven't been in many years, but I used to love that giant heart! Would love to check it out again.

  4. I haven't been but would love to visit and discover my favorite.

  5. Love the Franklin! My boys are fans of the train, but I think my favorite is the air drum/cannon that moves the sparkly wall (there's probably an actual name for it, but I don't know what it is).

  6. LOVE Franklin Institute...would love to take my boys!

  7. the giant heart is a must see every time i visit the franklin :)

  8. I've heard such good things about this exhibit. I'd love to go!

  9. I love the heart is is a classic!!! I remember going there as a child.