A few weekends ago we rode the Amtrak to Richmond for the day. Noah wanted to go on another train ride, and Richmond is nearby destination that we hadn’t visited before. We boarded the train here in Alexandria, and the ride took about two hours.
Richmond’s Main Street train station is really pretty, especially because of the clock tower. The station opened in 1901. It was closed for about three decades because of flood and fire damage, but it was renovated and reopened in 2003.
We hopped in an Uber and headed to the Science Museum of Virginia. The museum is located in Richmond’s old Broad Street train station. The station was open from 1919 to 1975. The building was bought by the Commonwealth of Virginia and reopened as the science museum in 1977.
Here are a few model trains that we saw in the rotunda area. One model is of a Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad train. The RF&P was one of the main railroad lines that serviced Broad Street.
Also in the rotunda, we saw this massive Foucault pendulum (it demonstrates the Earth’s rotation). We watched the pendulum a handful of times throughout the day, but we only saw it knock down a few pegs.
Then we started to explore all the hands-on exhibits. We started in the “Speed” area. Noah got to play air hockey against a robot, measure the speed of his running and baseball throw, and learn about the flow of air using magnets.
Noah had fun rearranging these gears and giant rubber bands to create the best setup to maximize the rotation of the main gear. He got that main gear to spin at about 200 revolutions per minute.
We saw this cool replica of John Glenn’s Mercury spacecraft (Friendship 7) too.
Another cool exhibit was a simulator of various wind speeds. Check out this short video of Noah experiencing 80 mph winds from a category 1 hurricane. As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.
We were extra lucky that day, because the museum was hosting the RVA Makersfest. At this annual gathering, Richmond-area businesses and groups set up interactive displays to inspire kids to tinker, create, and build.
Noah got to “drive” this cool remote control truck that was built by high school students in Richmond.
He made cool spiral designs with this circular wooden gadget made with wheels, gears, and sidewalk chalk.
And of course, no building event would be complete without Legos – lots and lots of Legos!
While we were outside, we got to see this Chesapeake & Ohio locomotive that was restored by the museum. This steam engine was built in New York and could go 70 mph.
We also got to see this “Aluminaut” submarine that was built in 1964 and donated to the museum in 1995.
Next we headed back inside for a quick lunch at the Periodic Table restaurant. Science everywhere! Ha.
After lunch we headed downstairs. Noah made designs with the giant Light Bright and learned about the Bernoulli Effect (about high and low air pressure) with a beach ball globe and air blower.
Ryan and Noah posed for a picture in this shark cage too. Ha.
Then we headed to the “Boost” area. Noah’s favorite activity here was using a computer to make music with real percussion instruments. Check it out!
Here’s a short video too. Yeah, this was really cool.
We had lots of other fun in the “Boost” area too. We played memory games, timed our biking speed, drew complex pictures by following instructions, and worked with other kids to stack play food on trays in an assembly line. (And no, we won’t be quitting our day jobs. Ha.)
There was also a cool exhibit that measures your height and weight and determines what you should be able to fit inside. Noah can fit in a garment bag!
Next we headed to the second floor to visit the science lab, Ecolab, and animal lab. We saw a beehive, insects, snakes, and more. There were more 10,000 bees in the hive, but the staff person was able to point out the queen bee – pretty cool!
We even got to see one of the museum’s rats play basketball! The staff explained that they used operant and classical conditioning to train the rats to play basketball and soccer. Noah thought this was pretty cool! Isn’t she cute? Ha.
As we headed out of the museum, we took a few minutes to spin the big stone balls. Yes, Noah got wet…
Yep, we had a great time at the science museum!
By the way, if you’re wondering if I just happen to know all the science stuff I wrote about here, the answer is no (though Ryan probably does). But I have a handy camera to take pictures of all the explanation signs…and there’s always help from Google too. Ha.
Then we headed back to Main Street station for our train ride home.
Here’s a short video of the train pulling into the station too…
It was a quick trip to Richmond, but we had a lot of fun! We definitely plan to visit again.