Hands-on science center wants to hear your memories

Hands-on science center wants to hear your memories

Soggy potato chips can be science. 

That’s what a group of 9- and 10-year-olds were learning Monday at Impression 5 Science Center in downtown Lansing, engaged in an experiment about acidity using chips, water and vinegar.

The young scientists were there for a day camp during their spring break, but hands-on activities happen daily at the science center, which marks its 50th birthday this month. To celebrate, the center is looking back on the past half-century by soliciting memories from the community and raising funds that will see it through the next 50 years. 

Impression 5 first opened in April of 1972. Founder Marilynne Eichinger wanted to provide a space for kids to use all five senses to learn about the world around them. 

That objective hasn’t changed. 

“The mission of Impression 5 has always been about hands-on interaction between science and the arts,” said Executive Director Erik Larson. “It’s the way that we achieve that mission that has obviously changed over the years.”

The science center has about 30,000 square feet of exhibit space on two floors. The first floor of the museum is currently occupied by an interactive traveling exhibit. Impression 5 hosts at least two temporary exhibits a year designed to bring new people into the space.

Families enjoy Impression 5 Science Museum Sunday, March 20, 2022.

The current exhibit, “Wild Kratt’s Creature Power,” is aimed at children ages 3 to 9 and teaches about animals and their habitats. The exhibit, on loan from the Minnesota Children’s Museum, is based on the popular PBS Kids television series. 

In June, a new exhibit on manufacturing called “How People Make Things” will open. 

The second floor of the center features permanent exhibits that explore different types of science, including energy, light, nuclear physics, fluid dynamics, and an exhibit about the mouth, which encapsulates oral health, anatomy and linguistics. By early next year, the center plans to add a new exhibit on renewable energy. 

Orlando  Laiya, 6, plays with the ever-popular, over-sized toothbrush and teeth at Impression 5 Science Museum Sunday, March 20, 2022.

“It’s really important to have a really diverse set of content areas so people can choose what they want to get engaged in,” Larson said. “It gives us these opportunities for a child to connect to something they’re interested in.”  

The center wants to continue to invest in new exhibits, both permanent and traveling. There’s also the desire to increase educational programming by hosting labs.