Hands On! Regional Museum, Johnson City, TN

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Combining education with fun is one way to help children learn new things. In Johnson City, Tennessee a group of people gathered together to create the Hands On! Regional Museum. This museum offers exhibits that children can really enjoy, without feeling like they are still in school. The museum has group days, camps, and even birthday party events. Hands On considers their regional museum to be the "Place to Discover.''

Operating hours of the interactive museum are Monday 9am to 5pm during summer. They are closed on Mondays during autumn to spring. Tuesday through Friday hours are 9am to 5pm, Sunday 1pm to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 5pm. To enjoy the museum to its full potential parents should allow for 1 and a half to 2 hours. The museum is closed for all major holidays. Guest prices are $8 for adults and children. Children under the age of 2 are free. There is a membership option for local residents.

Hands On! has twenty permanent exhibits. In the My Science and Me section children and parents will begin with the Eastman Discovery Lab. This exhibit will have participatory programs with making silly putty, erupting volcanoes, learning about the power of air pressure, and pirate science. Biology, earth science, chemistry, and physics are all discussed in the lab setting. The lab can teleconference or provide distance learning programs. The Get Moving exhibit is all about the 1996 Saturn. The exhibit shows under the hood and safety features of the car. In fact the entire display will show the workings and mechanics of the car. There are also a police motorcycle's flashing lights to test out.

The Ark displays the diversity of life on earth, with animals from around the world. They are stuffed. Children are able to learn about the animals, what they eat, where they live, and their habitats. For example, there is a large Kodiak bear that will fascinate guests and show the boat where these critters live. A polar bear peeks out from a window and pelts are provided for children to feel. Beyond Sound is a music room. The Alive and Well site is about biology and ecology, where live animals are shown. Iguana, snakes, tree frogs, and fish are all part of the hands on exhibit.

Other exhibits in this area include Cool Clear Water, The Landfill, Wings, Frozen Shadows, Pulleys, and Bubble Tables. My Town and Me has additional exhibits like the TVA/ Waterplay Dam. Children are able to see how dams work and could even get a little wet. The Dam exhibit originated at the World's Fair in 1982 that was hosted in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Hands On! Regional Museum also has feature exhibits that come and go. Maze-A-Palooza is one such exhibit. It is going to be at the museum through September 2009. The museum has puzzles, illusions, and much more that will entice visitors to think. Children are able to walk along a maze, use problem solving, and even observe exhibits before testing them.

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