Washington DC: Marian Koshland Interactive Science

The CPA and I are always looking for cool places to visit in the city.  We’ve seen museums and gardens and statues, things that have historical significance and things that have been added in recent years.  But when we went to visit the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences, we had no idea what was in store for us.  

What we found is that it is a place where you could learn about science in relations to things that are currently affecting our world through the use of live experiments and cool interactive displays.  Things such as global warming, infectious disease, and DNA.  And the best part?  Even if you don’t live in the area, you can still “visit” by using the interactive displays that are available online.  Don’t believe me?  Let me show you.

First, this is what the museum looks like from the outside.  Modern, hip, cool building, right?


The first display you see when entering the building has a picture of Abraham Lincoln on it.


Don’t be fooled.  This isn’t an old-fashioned museum.  As you can see by looking around, it is anything but traditional.


In fact, it is as far from traditional as you can get.  inside4

Each of the interactive displays focuses on something that is affecting our world today.  


Remember our recent discussion on the flu?  Well, this exhibit has a board that is controlled by this panel. When you click on the buttons, you see the world map light up according to how many people are vaccinated and where.  


Want to know about global energy consumption or changes in world population?  Well then you’re in luck. This next exhibits called “Lights at Night” allows you to look at places as close as your home town or as far away as Africa.  

All you have to do is sit in front of the monitor and use the keyboard that is provided.  Or, you can visit the website and use the online display too. (Click here to give it a go.)  


Maybe infectious disease and vaccinations are more interesting to you.  


In this section of the museum you can learn all about bacteria and germs.  


This display, for example, illustrates how quickly bacteria can multiply and spread.


Scary isn’t it?  (If you want to learn more about infectious diseases and how they affect the world, click here.)  

Interested in global warming and how it may or may not influence your area?  This is the area for you.   (You can visit this part of the museum or you can click here.)  


But maybe these high-tech exhibits aren’t your thing.  Maybe you prefer a good old-fashioned experiment.  Once again, you are in for a treat.  


With this particular experiment, we were able to see how water gets filtered.  It was really amazing to watch the various processes and the simple tools that are used and at the end, we had clear water!  Want to learn more about safe drinking water from the comfort of your computer?  (Click here.)  


Several other exhibits are available too.  The one shown in the picture below is on genetics.  And believe it or not, it is interactive too.  You simply slide the computer screen that you see on the far right and then watch as the display changes.   


Here’s a display all about climate changes and how they have affected the earth over the past 300,000 years.  


And below is a continuation of the climate display, only here you can learn about the actual causes.  


You can even learn about temperature and precipitation conditions and how they may affect growth of the area in which you live.  


There’s even  a display all about DNA and how it can be used to detect diseases, improve crops, or catch criminals.   (If you’re at home and want to see a cool interactive display, click here.)  


So there you have it.  Probably the most interactive place we’ve visited in DC so far.  It’s full of interesting facts and great displays that leave you a little bit smarter than when you came in.  I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area.  (And if you’re not able to visit in person, be sure to click on the links provided through this post or visit the museum’s website by clicking here.)

What do you think, does it look like a place that you would like to visit?  What area would you like to learn about or which online display did you enjoy?  


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Joanna - May 7, 2009 - 4:37 am

love it! that place looks awesome!!!! i can’t wait until the kiddos are older and will enjoy it, too :)

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the domestic fringe - May 7, 2009 - 5:11 am

It looks super interesting. I’d love to visit! I’m sure my son would love this place. Thanks for the mini tour.


Kristina - May 7, 2009 - 6:07 am

It’s like a little hidden treasure! How fun!

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Mom of 5 - May 7, 2009 - 6:32 am

My gosh – what a totally awesome place. Can’t wait to see it next time we’re up. But looking forward to checking it out on line too. Thanks for the wonderful mini-tour.

Mom of 5 - May 7, 2009 - 6:41 am

Wow – what an amazing place!! Can’t wait to check it out when next we’re up there. Thanks for a wonderful mini-tour. I’m anxious to try it out on line today!!!

Sam - May 7, 2009 - 7:24 am

You found the Koshland! I would classify that as a second or third tier DC attraction, a place the locals are more apt to go to avoid the tourist crowds. It is definitely meant for high school and older though, as the subject manner is presented in a more mature way (meaning without the primary colors and small chairs, and lots of text to read on the exhibits).

They used to have a regularly scheduled program (maybe once a month on Tuesday evening?) where for just $5 you got to hear a talk from a renowned scientist (with Q&A following), explore the museum, and enjoy a light dinner reception with beverages. For a science geek like me, it was a nice way to graze dinner and have an after work drink with a few like-minded friends on a weeknight all the while enjoying my favorite subject.

And if we didn’t get enough to eat/drink, The Koshland is located on the edge of China Town/Gallery Place where there were some great restaurants just a couple blocks away.

Jenna @ Newlyweds - May 7, 2009 - 7:34 am

Wow that is a really neat museum, off to check out the website.

Jenna @ Newlyweds´s last blog post..Meet the Newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Realife

Mindee@ourfrontdoor - May 7, 2009 - 7:59 am

I cannot wait to show that sight to my son later today! He’s a science junkie and he’ll love it. Thanks Tabitha.

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Briony - May 7, 2009 - 8:52 am

wow that place looks awesome and educational…definitely a go to spot for my next trip down there.

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Chris - May 7, 2009 - 11:00 am

Wow that looks awesome! I wish they had museums like this when I was growing up… all i can remember is the tornado trick with two 2 liter bottles. Oh and we still had 9 planets!


LoveLetters2anAmericanSoldier - May 7, 2009 - 11:23 am

Thumbs up for learning :) I love learning and this place is definitely one I’d be visiting more than once.

My favorite museum though has to be the Smithsonian!

The Wife of Odie - May 8, 2009 - 5:07 am

sign me up! i’d love to go there. do you want to take me on a tour of d.c.? :)

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Tabitha Blue - May 8, 2009 - 5:28 am

Looks like a great place… I learned just from this post!! Haha, I’ll have to check it out next time I’m there.


Tabitha Blue´s last blog post..The Big One.

V. Higgins - May 8, 2009 - 9:13 am

Very cool! The Arizona Science Center is similar and was very interactive and fun even when I was in middle school (13 years ago?). I still remember their Titanic exhibit, you actually got to see part of the hull and touch a frozen ice block of sea water (to illustrate the lower freezing point of salt water). They had replica rooms for every level and you even went down into the boiler room. It was wild!

SergioM - September 17, 2009 - 11:43 pm

It looks fantastic! Sure, I’d like to visit it so I’ll take a look when I arrive at home (now “working” 8.43 am in Spain).
Thanks for this interesting tour!

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