One of Florida's premiere science museums, designed for all ages to enjoy, Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry – better known as MOSI – has been entertaining crowds since its opening in 1982.
Situated directly across the street from the University of South Florida and often involved in partner programs with the university, MOSI was recently accredited by the American Association of Museums. One of those must-see Tampa attractions, this museum is dedicated to "advancing public interest, knowledge, and understanding of science, industry, and technology." The museum also strives to "make a difference in people's lives by making science real for people of all ages and backgrounds."
It takes about four hours to really get a good look at everything there is to see at MOSI, including the excellent permanent exhibits. These exhibits can be enjoyed by all ages even though some are definitely geared towards children.
On the first floor/lobby area, you can't possibly miss the Diplodocus Dinosaurs. These ancient Sauropods were the largest of their era and Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry is one of a handful of museums in the world to display one of these specimens, some of which weighed up to 80,000 pounds. The ones in MOSI's lobby stand three stories tall and measure a combined length of about 150 feet.
On the second floor, Disasterville – sponsored by Bay News 9 – is meant to help visitors visualize what happens to a town after it is hit by a natural disaster. A walk through this interactive town helps guests walk away with a better idea of the impact of these disasters and helps them learn how to minimize the affects of disasters on their lives. Included in that exhibit is the Gulf Coast Hurricane attraction, which allows visitors to feel the effects of a Category I storm.
The second floor is also currently home to an exhibit that strives to educate visitors young and old about the country of India. Called "Demystifying India", this exhibit hosts displays on the country's history, culture, and contributions to the world.
On the third floor, guests can explore "space, flight, and beyond" at the "Our Place in the Universe" exhibit. This 5,000 square-foot display focuses on space exploration and astronomy and is a great place for children to learn about the solar system. Also on this floor is the amazing High Wire Bicycle, where guests of all ages can ride a bike across a 1" cable suspended 30 feet off the ground. (Don't worry – it's impossible to fall off!)
A number of visiting and traveling exhibits also make it to MOSI on a regular basis, so there's always something new to see every time you return.
With a new projection dome and a recently renovated seating area, Saunders Planetarium at MOSI offers state-of-the-art looks at the sky. The new planetarium is also capable of playing movies, ultra 3D graphics and live videos from NASA.
Shows occur at least once on the weekdays, depending on time of year, and about three times per day on the weekends. Presentations vary and change every few months and sometimes according to season.
The Kids in Charge! area of the museum is designed for children ages twelve and under and was created with the help of a children's advisory board made up of kids ages 10 through 17. More than 25,000 square feet of exhibit space makes this the largest children's science center in the country.
Main exhibit areas in this part of the museum include "Activate!", where kids can experiment with gravity, weights, and momentum; "Investigate!", an area full of thinking-based experiments that encourage observation and analysis; "Kids Create!", a space where children design and build various objects; and "Fields to Meals", a section designed for pre-school and young elementary students where they can learn how food makes it from the farm to the table.
The only dome-screened IMAX Theater in Florida, this one opened in 1995 and has been a huge hit ever since. The 82-foot hemispherical movie screen makes viewers part of the action and it's not unusual to experience minor dizziness or feel like you're moving during the film.
The theater seats 340 visitors for anywhere from six to ten shows each day, depending on the day of the week. The schedule includes at least three different choices, some more geared towards younger children than others. The theater also sometimes shows special engagement first-run films designed to take advantage of IMAX technology.
Home to a free-flying butterfly garden and literally thousands of butterflies, BioWorks is an outdoor exhibit and engineered ecosystem which mimics how natural wetlands clean water as an alternative to current wastewater treatment techniques. Opened in 1995, the best time to visit the garden is during the warmer months of the year when the tiny creatures are more abundant. (Note: The garden is closed during extreme weather.)
MOSI sponsors a plethora of special science presentations for all ages, including "science adventure days" for youth from 3 to 8 years old and lectures/workshops for senior adults. Family classes and workshops are open to all ages and summer camps include half-day, full-day, and travel programs for children and pre-teens. MOSI's outreach programs include expeditions to nearby Florida natural attractions like rivers and caves.