Beyond Spaceship Earth

family looking out cupola in ISS exhibit

Kids love astronauts.  They want to be them, and are curious about what it’s like to live and work in space.   And, unlike some things that entrance children, most adults share this interest. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis wanted to build on this shared fascination to create a learning experience for families. But how to bring the reality of living and working in space down to Earth?

Beyond Spaceship Earth’s exhibition gallery recreates the 360 degree environment of the International Space Station. The long, linear floor plan echoes the station’s shape, and exhibit components can be found on the walls, ceilings and floor. In this immersive environment, visitors are able to experience parts of daily astronaut life -­ getting tucked into bed standing up, operating a robotic arm, putting on a space suit, gazing out the cupola at Earth, or conducting an experiment. Real NASA items are exhibited alongside touchable versions and hands-­on activities.

Children and families are enchanted with the experience. As they explore together they are engaging with STEM concepts and careers, having fun and reinforcing the idea that we are all learners. The experience also inspires further discovery.

“We were watching a show in which a large ball of water was floating around the astronauts on a mission. My daughter immediately talked about how dangerous that could be and that they needed to vacuum it up right away because of what she’d learned at the exhibit.”

In addition to families, the exhibit is also reaching students and teachers as part of the school visit program. Educator workshops and an online unit of study for grades 3-­8 help teachers, including those in underserved local areas of Indianapolis, bring the excitement of ISS into their science and engineering curriculum, and classroom.

Over 1.25 million people visit the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis - the world’s largest children’s museum- each year, and Beyond Spaceship Earth is on track to be one of the don’t-­miss galleries, with 250,000 visitors in just its first months.

Read the Story of Success here.