Located at 200 Museum Drive in Lansing Michigan is Impression 5, a non-profit museum dedicated to teaching visitors about science in a hands-on way. Erik Larson, executive director of Impression 5, said the idea for the science center was the vision of one woman, Marilynne Eichinger. “She had this dream of creating a space where children could experience science using all five of their senses,” Larson said.
Impression 5’s impressive Science Store stocks everything from brain puzzles to science experiments to astronaut food! Guest Services Team Member Marcel Jackson said that there are over 150 exhibits to explore in the Impression 5 science center and it is open Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
A giant mouth filled with perfectly giant teeth greets visitors at the entrance of the science center. Young Childs Program Coordinator Jen Currier said that the mouth acts as a meeting spot for visitors because it is so large and memorable. Admission fees are $5.00 for adults and children age 1 and older, $4.50 for seniors and free for children under 1.
Three-year-old Zane Morgan and mother Stacy Morgan blow humungous bubbles through a bubble machine inside of the Bubbles Room. Stacy Morgan said she brought her son here because she loved this place when she was little. “This place is great, it’s inexpensive,” Stacy Morgan said, “and it’s a way to spend a whole day together as well as a great way to occupy the kids.”
- Jaelyn Lopez, left, Alexis Martin, center, and Peggy White, right, experience what it’s like to be engulfed inside of a giant bubble. Volunteer worker, Tom Goodman, said that the Bubbles Room is intended to teach visitors about the chemistry of soap and how a bubble is structured.
Volunteer veteran, Tom Goodman, blows a giant bubble to 2-year-old Lemmy Quinn in the Bubble Room. Goodman said volunteering is a way for him to give back to the community. “I wanted some way I could pay back to the community which has been good to me and I love science,” Goodman said. “I just love to watch the kids have a good time, especially the older kids who have a little bit more curiosity about how things work and why they work and I'm always ready to talk about science with them.”
Soapsuds cover the floor in the Bubble Room as visiting kids discover how bubbles are formed and what a mess they can make. The Bubble Room is just one of 13 different rooms that each have multiple activities.
Children from Ellis Elementary School of Belding Michigan play in the Water Room, which teaches children about the concepts of measurement and pressure. Marcel Jackson, a guest services team member, said that Impression 5 gets an unbelievable number of students who visit for a field trip.
Two-year-olds Lemmy Quinn and Boone Missamore spend time catching fish in the newly built First Impression Room. Young Childs Program Coordinator Jen Currier said the First Impression Room is for children ages 0-4. “The first impression room is a place where they can come in play and explore with different kinds of sciences,” Currier said. “We also offer different science classes that I teach five days a week.”
One of the latest additions to Impression 5 is the MI Nature Room, which allows visitors to explore the natural environments of Michigan in the comfort of the science center. Volunteer Tom Goodman said the new exhibit allows kids to create their own food chain after looking at examples of already existing chains.
Three-year-old Zane Morgan gets a lesson in colors, as his mother holds a blue and yellow square over one another to make green in the Light and Color exhibit. Volunteer Tom Goodman said that the exhibit also allows visitors to play with prisms, mirrors, lenses and color spectrums.
Two friends from Lansing Baptist School combine their faces in a mirror in the Light and Color exhibit. The mirror allows two participants to see both themselves and the person across from them while they try and mimic what the other person is doing.
Faith Robbe of St. Johns lifts herself off the ground using a pulley mechanism in the Simple Machines Room. Her mother, Sheila Robbe, said she has been coming here for 17 years. “It keeps changing, but it’s a great way for us to have hands-on teaching with things that we’re talking about,” Sheila Robbe said. “They can touch, feel, look and do everything which definitely helps them learn and understand science.“
Underneath Impression 5 is a giant workshop where most of the exhibits are built by hand. Steven Valenziano, assistant exhibit designer, said it all starts with sketches. “We sketch it out and then we prototype it,” Valenziano said. “Next, we take it upstairs, let people try it and then we’ll refine the design. It’s usually a back and forth process until we like the design and then we actually have to make the design so that it won’t crumble after a few years of wear-and-tear.”
Steven Valenziano, assistant exhibit designer experiments with Legos for a new exhibit to be opened this weekend. Valenziano said there are some exciting additions coming soon to the museum but they are still in the works.