There are a ton of science museums and exhibits in the world and they are all pretty sweet, but these ones win it all.
Here are a few STEM places you should def check out this summer!
Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London
If you have any interest at all in astronomy, time, or scientific history, Royal Observatory, Greenwich has to be on your to-see list. The Prime Meridian, devised and decided in the 1800s, passes through the courtyard. The museum houses old, historically important astronomy and navigation equipment, and makes the connections between the two clear. The only planetarium in London, the Peter Harrison Planetarium is on the grounds. The National Maritime Museum, the Queens House, and the Cutty Sark share grounds with the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, so you can see the observatory in historical context and learn about how discoveries made and technology developed there were applied. If none of this catches your eye, it’s worth a visit just to stand with one foot in each hemisphere. (This makes an excellent profile picture.)
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands, part of Ecuador, should be first on any scientific history buff’s list of travel destinations. The first recorded visit to the island took place in the 1500s, but it was Charles Darwin’s stop there during his time aboard the Beagle that secured the Galapagos Islands’ place in STEM history. Their isolation allowed quite a few endemic species to develop on the islands, and these species informed Darwin’s Journal and Remarks, now known more commonly as The Voyage of the Beagle. Visiting the Galapagos lets you see some of the species that helped Darwin develop one of the most significant scientific theories. The stories don’t stop there, though – the Galapagos Islands also served as a base for pirates and marooned sailors at different times.
National Geographic Museum, Washington, DC
If your parents subscribed to National Geographic like mine did, we probably both spent similar amounts of time with the yellow-bordered magazines that served as a gateway to the wider world. They were (and are!) an exciting combination of science, human interest, and photography. The most common reaction to the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC, is that it is just like the magazine, but more immediate! With displays and rotating exhibits, many STEM-related or based in history, the National Geographic Museum combines scholarly seriousness with interactive displays for all ages. If you’re there around lunchtime, the food trucks in nearby Farragut Square provide an alternative to the usual touristy street food without the more formal atmosphere of a restaurant. (It’s also great people watching.)
Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh has been a STEM hotspot since the early days of the steel industry. Its current STEM innovation is hardly limited to Carnegie Mellon University and tech start-ups. The Carnegie Science Center, one of four of the Carnegie Museums, is a quirky, hands-on science museum that matches Pittsburgh’s casual, open, fun-loving atmosphere. In addition to temporary exhibits and programs, the Carnegie Science Center’s standouts include an exhibit on the physics of sports, a competitive energy-based game show, and the world’s largest permanent robotics exhibit. The nearby Carnegie Museum of Natural History also houses the Hall of Dinosaurs and the world’s largest collection of Jurassic dinosaurs.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Like the Royal Observatory, The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is as historically important as it is fun. In Cape Canaveral, you can see a restored Saturn V launch vehicle and an Apollo capsule, as well as simulations of launch rooms during a launch and the Apollo moon landing. The US Astronaut Hall of Fame is nearby, and admission is included in the price of a ticket to the Visitor Complex. Just outside the complex, you can see historic rockets that took astronauts, satellites, and equipment to space.