The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) is the center of the universe when it comes to interactive science. Founded at the 1964–65 World’s Fair, NYSCI has grown into one of the area’s leading educational institutions that welcomes droves of students, teachers and families each year.
Located in Queens, the museum uses the “Design-Make-Play” method to educate visitors in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. It has 12 permanent exhibit areas as well as several temporary exhibits hosted throughout the year. NYSCI also has a 3-D movie theater and hosts a litany of public programs and events.
NYSCI is always buzzing with activity. Here are a few of the exhibits on display this fall, including the museum’s main fall attraction, “The Art of the Brick,” which runs through Jan. 26, 2020.
“The Art of the Brick” is the world’s largest display of LEGO art. It features more than 100 sculptures created from over 1 million LEGO Bricks.
The exhibit is the creation of contemporary artist Nathan Sawaya. “’The Art of the Brick’ takes LEGO somewhere you wouldn’t expect and shows you things you have never seen before,” Sawaya said. “The goal with this collection of art is to demonstrate the potential of imagination and the power of creativity.”
The collection includes many works inspired solely by Sawaya’s creativity. But there are also several pieces that are re-imagined versions of some of the world’s most famous art masterpieces, such as Michelangelo’s “David,” Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” and Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” In addition, Sawaya created a 20-foot Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton (comprised of over 80,000 LEGO bricks).
“Everyone has had an experience with LEGO bricks in one way or another,” said Dan Wempa, Chief Operating Officer at NYSCI. “Seeing how things piece together and then taking them apart fosters engineering skills. And the open-ended nature of LEGO bricks helps people explore their creativity.”
Along with the sculptures, the exhibit includes several interactive stations including Art & Architecture, where visitors are challenged to use LEGO bricks to recreate famous
building, bridges, and structures; and LEGO Drag Race, in which guests can build a LEGO brick car and test it out on ramps of different inclines.
Visitors can marvel at homemade gingerbread houses made entirely of edible gingerbread, royal icing and candy. The houses are drafted, designed, baked, planned, built, and decorated by chef Jon Lovitch over the course of an entire year. Lovitch will be on-hand at the museum from December 27-30 to lead workshops on making gingerbread houses. He’ll return January 12 to host a demonstration on tips and tricks for gingerbread preservation.
The Design Lab is a drop-in space where visitors can explore, build and create. It has various activity spaces,where visitors are challenged to find solutions to real-world problems. Explainers are stationed throughout the Design Lab should guests need any help solving a challenge. Explainers are young men and women, ages 14 to 24, from the community who work on the museum floor, interacting with the public and helping visitors to understand the science behind the exhibits and demonstrations. Since 1986, NYSCI’s Science Career Ladder has enabled more than 4,000 students to serve as Explainers to gain work experience while being exposed to a wide array of STEM career and college pathways.
The activities at Design Lab are frequently changed based on experimentation, reflection, and feedback from guests. This makes each trip to the Design Lab – and to NYSCI – a unique one.
Connected Worlds, held in the Great Hall, is an interactive animated world where visitors’ decisions and actions dictate how the natural world is kept in balance. The six different environments – jungle, desert, wetlands, mountain valley, reservoir and plains – are fed by a 38-foot-high projected “waterfall” that flows out across an 2,300-square-foot interactive floor.
Guests are challenged with keeping their environment flourishing by planting seeds, feeding animals and learning to share the water source among all the “worlds.” The exhibit allows guests to learn about the concepts of sustainability science including feedback loops, equilibrium in a dynamic environment, and casual links and influences.
The fun is not just contained within the walls of the museum. Outside, guests will find several interactive exhibits including the Science Playground. Designed for children of all ages, it features elements such as Archimedes screw and water play area, windpipes, a climbing net, a giant lever, slides, sandboxes and metal drums.