Last weekend, I got to explore Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition at Johnson Space Center here in Houston. This exhibition is touring the US, and will be here in Houston through September 5. As an avid Mythbuster’s fan since the show’s beginning, naturally I was itching to go visit.
Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition is a collection of props from the show, alongside interactive experiments and demonstrations that allow you to step into the Mythbusters’ shoes. Initially, I was worried that the science behind some of the phenomena that were explored on the show would be left behind for only the fun explosives that Jamie, Adam, and the other Mythbusters love. I also feared that this would be a museum exhibit rather than something truly interactive.
I was definitely proven wrong! Sure, there was a large museum-like component to the exhibit, but for a Mythbuster’s fan like myself, seeing copies of the blueprints and exploded items from the show were really cool. The biggest winner for me, though, was that the exhibit was designed such that participants are invited to test mini-myths on their own. As you approach the table to look at the blueprints, Jamie and Adam are projected on a large TV, telling you about the scientific method and, rather than telling you, “Don’t try this at home,” they invite you to do some Mythbusting of your own.
You can test the myth of whether walking or running in the rain makes you get less wet, or what types of house designs you need to prevent it from blowing away in a storm (see Dan’s house design below). The myths they have chosen for the exhibit are really ways to get you to build hypotheses and ask questions, then immediately put your hypotheses to the test to get a result. Even young kids who have not seen a single show can learn a lot from this interactive exhibit. Most of the stations are fairly simple to grasp and can be repeated over and over again to re-test your hypotheses. When we visited the exhibition, there were several kids under the age of ten actively testing the wind tunnel and a tablecloth station. You know they’re having fun learning when you hear one of them say, “Listen to my hypothesis! I want to test it!” Let’s hope that Netflix brings Mythbusters back to streaming as I have a feeling several of these kids are now Mythbusters fans as well.
The final verdict? I think Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition is a great family or school-related excursion. The fact that the exhibition invites you to have some hands-on experience with the scientific method makes this a win in my book. This is one way to do some citizen science without making a huge mess at home. It could easily be incorporated into a science curriculum for students learning about the scientific method. I highly recommend it, and not just because I’m a Mythbusters lover. Going through the exhibition can help kids and adults alike reignite their interest in science. In addition, at least while this exhibit is here in Houston, you are also exploring Johnson Space Center, where you can learn all about NASA, the Space Program, and the cool science and engineering that go into every mission.
Biotechie is the Science ACEs social media manger (@scienceaces and facebook.com/scienceaces). She is a 4th year PhD student researching cell function, cholesterol, and obesity. You can follow her personal twitter @biotech_babe.