601 Light Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

Easily spotted by anyone visiting Baltimore's Inner Harbor (and with its own Water Taxi stop), the Science Center's three-story building is red brick with a shiny silver half-circle protruding from it - this houses the IMAX theater - and two large red neon arcs forming the MSC's signature silhouette. The MSC is most popular with families, as its exhibits are educational for children of all ages - though adults will find plenty to do there.

First Floor - The highlight of the entry floor is the giant animatronic blue crab that marks the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay exhibit. This section features live animals and teaches about the history and present condition of the bay. The other major exhibit on the first floor rotates infrequently, as of this writing the feature is Dino Digs. Between the rotating exhibit and the Bay exhibit is the Science Arcade, which teaches basic principles of physics. Also on the first floor are the Science Store gift shop, a Friendly's restaurant, and the entrance to the IMAX theater (lines for which often extend into the gift shop).

Second Floor - The IMAX theater's exit is on the second floor, and after the movie visitors exit directly into Outer Space Place, a permanent feature about space and featuring images from and lessons about the Hubble Space Telescope. Lines for the Davis Planetarium often extend into the space exhibits. The second floor is also home to the Demonstration Stage, where at specified times throughout the day MSC employees present various science presentations. There is also a permanent exhibit near the stage, this one about ecology, physics, and other scientific principles. The rest of the second floor features a rotating exhibit about any of a number of branches of science.

Third Floor - Possibly the least-frequently visited floor because the second floor is so popular, the third floor still has attractions for visitors. Among those is the K.I.D.S. Room, open limited hours for children only. There is also a laser theater on the third floor, and an infrequently-rotating exhibit. This is the best floor from which to view Asteroids in the Atrium, a 37-foot mural with a model of the NEAR satellite and a giant simulated asteroid. There is accompanying information about the NEAR mission, which is run by the JHU Applied Physics Laboratory.

Other elements of the Science Center include the Crosby-Ramsey Memorial Observatory, which is dedicated to public outreach and education and features a computer-driven telescope. The MSC also offers special member nights, as well as extensive educational programs for schools and other groups that support children.

Personal Recollection - My own memories of the Science Center are varied. I have been there several dozen times over more than a decade, and participated in nearly all of the programs available. I was homesick when our Girl Scout troop went there for the overnight programs (even though my mother was our troop leader!), and I was delighted when I was chosen to be the volunteer for the demo stage. I saw the IMAX show Beavers at least six times there, and I remember the early 3-D IMAX movies. As I grew older, I began to scorn the MSC when my parents wanted to go - I was too cool for that, and besides nothing ever changed. I haven't been in a long time, but I firmly believe that it's a wonderful place for children.

Official website - http://www.mdsci.org/