Explore our exhibits

Be The Astronaut

Child scientist having fun at Roanoke museum

Be The Astronaut is a travelling exhibit from Eureka Exhibits that will be housed at the Science Museum of Western Virginia between September 2019-August 2020! 

Visitors will explore space concepts and technologies with this world-class interactive exhibit. Focused on STEM-based learning, Be The Astronaut fuses physical exhibitry and state-of-the-art video game technology.

  • Create your own space missions
  • Learn to fly spaceships and drive space rover’s
  • State-of-the-art mission simulators to put learnt skills into action!
  • Meet the virtual crew who will help visitors navigate the exhibit and utilize all of its components

THE FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON WILL BE THERE FOR 100 MILLION YEARS.

The Moon has no atmosphere, which means there is no wind to erode the surface and no water to wash the footprints away!

Fungi Kingdom

Fungi make us a most unique sector of our planet’s ecosystem. Neither plants nor animals, fungi make up a completely new taxonomic kingdom. What is even more fascinating is their many uses within medicine, healthcare, cooking and many more! This new exhibit will dive in to the world of fungi and highlight some of the more unusual species found on our planet.

  • Interactive touch-pad with a huge variety of species to explore
  • Real fungi specimens on display

A Fungus Is the Largest Living Organism on the Planet

A fungus known as the honey mushroom is the largest living organism on the planet. It is believed to be about 2400 years old and covers over 2000 acres.

Healthy Bodies

The human body is truly the most fascinating piece of machinery in the world today. Comprising of 11 bodily systems and thousands of individual processes that effortlessly work together to keep us enjoying our daily activities. The Healthy Bodies Exhibit teaches visitors about different systems of the human body and what we can do to keep everything running smoothly.

  • Amazing Arteries shows guests how blood vessels transport blood cells from one location to another within the body
  • Get a one-off chance to view real human organs from a “plastinated” human specimen
  • Learn about oral anatomy and health by answering trivia questions in our touch-sensitive “Big Mouth”
  • Battle your opponent using mind control at our MindBall exhibit! 

You produce enough saliva to fill two swimming pools in a lifetime!

Living Collections

The Living River Exhibit represents the relationship between large bodies of water and tiny streams, demonstrating how they are connected. Get up close to remarkable creatures from the museum’s Living Collection. This exhibit links with the Health Earth exhibit by showing visitors the incredible resources the planet has to offer.

  • Discover a new way for plants to grow with the use of fish at the Aquaponics Cabinet
  • Explore fascinating insects, reptiles and fish in tanks and the impressive Living River tank
  • Get a hands-on experience with prehistoric creatures at a visitor favorite: the Touch Tank

The name ‘tarantula’ was originally given to a spider living in Southern Italy from the town of Taranto, where legend claims that a small species of spider living there had a fatal bite.  The only cure was for the victim to dance until exhausted, by which time the poison would have been sweated from the system.

Touch Tank

Get up close and personal with some fascinating creatures that live in the museum’s Touch Tank and enjoy a unique opportunity to touch these animals. An experienced and knowledgeable staff member is always on hand to ensure the most beneficial learning experience for visitors as well as the safety of our underwater friends.

  • Hands-on demonstrations of the anatomy and physiology of horseshoe crabs
  • See what seastars look like from underneath and how their feet help them to move
  • A variety of crab species live in the Touch Tank; see if you can find one!
  • The tank is decorated with rocks and plants for the comfort of our animals, but also hide many smaller creatures within their nooks and crannies

Most of us probably owe our lives to horseshoe crabs. Their blue, copper-based blood contains lysate, which reacts to bacterial toxins by clotting. Horseshoe crab blood has long been harvested to test everything from water to intravenous drugs for contamination.

Healthy Earth

Child scientist having fun at Roanoke museum

Our planet is immense, diverse and powerful. It has changed and adapted to natural and man-made effects over millions of years, and deep within it’s layers lies the secrets of our history. This exhibit explores geology, weather changes and our amazing Earth.

  • Interactive sandbox topographic map
  • Inside tornado display
  • Be a meteorologist with out green-screen weather reporting exhibit
  • Gem and mineral gallery

The Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing.

This deceleration is happening almost imperceptibly, at approximately 17 milliseconds per hundred years. This has the effect of lengthening our days, but it happens so slowly that it could be as much as 140 million years before the length of a day will have increased to 25 hours.

Wonder Lab

Wonder Lab introduces visitors of all ages into the world of coding and programming. This open learning environment uses playful elements to teach users the basics, as well as interactive stations to test out their knowledge and increase their confidence in coding. Be sure to check out the featured art instillation, Racing Electrons, by Jacob R. Smith!

  • Design the course for our playful Code-a-pillar and enjoy the lights and sounds of this interactive station
  • Cubetto allows older children to plan and execute the path for this robot through a mountain maze 
  • Guests program their own interactive stories, games and animations at the Scratch workbench
  • Easily a favorite station, Dot-and-Dash robots can be programmed to do a large variety of movements and activities using the control iPads
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It’s never too early to learn about coding!

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, co-founders of Apple, began their coding careers as teenagers.

Hidden Garden

The Hidden Garden exhibit explores horticulture, teaching students and adults about the processes and factors influencing plant growth and the fundamentals of gardening. This exhibit aims to provide visitors with the tools and skills necessary to grow healthy food for consumption in their own homes and gardens.

Due to this change in vision for the garden, there are no more butterflies in the garden as of February 2019.

  • Observe a variety of methods of growing plants, vegetables, fruits and herbs
  • Highlighting sustainable agriculture
  • Introduce solutions to help residents who live in food deserts
  • Promote environmental awareness and provide community education
  • Explore hydroponic set-ups and learn how to build your own for your home or garden

Plants really do respond to sound.

Talking to plants to help them grow is a well-known old wives’ tale, but studies have shown vibration (like music, or perhaps even the sweet sound of your voice) can affect plant growth.

How It Works

Explore the world of engineering, physics and mechanics using creativity and imagination. Visitors of all ages can use the exhibits and see difference forces in motion and how they can be manipulated to your desire. 

  • Design, build and test different structures with larger-than-life foam blocks
  • See how sound can become visible by finding just the right frequency to make water jump and dance
  • How long can you make the discs in our momentum exhibit stay up?
  • Use the airplane launchers to sent your paper airplane soaring through the sky

Engineers solve practical problems by applying mathematical and scientific knowledge. The word engineer comes from a Latin word meaning ‘cleverness’.

Maker Lab

Child scientist having fun at Roanoke museum

The Maker Lab is a unique learning environment that allows visitors to learn and create in a flexible and relaxed environment. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to make use of the free materials available and use their imaginations to make whatever they desire!

  • Unlimited supplies of craft materials that are free to use!
  • Lego wall where creations can be built and displayed to others visiting the museum
  • Maker Lab challenges that give visitors ideas of what to make whilst leaving space for individuality and creativity

Makerspaces are creative spaces located in communities, schools, and public and academic libraries.  These areas are designed to engage participants in hands-on activities that teach twenty-first-century skills.

Toy Joy

Child scientist having fun at Roanoke museum

Children and adults of all ages get the most benefit from play! This exhibit features larger-then-life toys and games for visitors to enjoy to their heart’s content whilst still learning about forces and engineering. 

  • What will you build with our huge Lego-style blocks? 
  • Light Bright encourages imagination and creativity whilst showing the science behind fluorescent lighting
  • See your motion reflected in the mesmerizing Aurora Vortex
  • Play with our retro arcade machines with no need for quarters

One of the exhibits, Mirror Minecraft, in this section was designed and created by Virginia Tech researchers! 

The Bubble

Child scientist having fun at Roanoke museum

The Bubble is a multi-sensory room specifically designed to enhance the growth and development of Pre-K aged children and those who benefit from sensory stimulation. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have issues effectively processing sensory information and may perceive sensation differently. The purpose of the sensory room is to provide a relaxed atmosphere where the person is surrounded by pleasant sensations especially children with autism who has sensory problems. Here’s an article from Autism Parenting Magazine that discusses this thoroughly.

  • Space for children to interact with their environment and manipulation of objects and light within that space
  • Enclosed space to allow children to act freely within the space and choose their path
  • Vast choice of toys and games to cater for each individual personality that enters the space
  • Specific games and toys used in professional programs to develop the grow and development of special needs children
  • Comfortable sofas for parents to enjoy watching their children explore the enclosed space 

This exhibit was designed in a Snozelen style. Snoezelen Multi-Sensory Environments are relaxing spaces that help reduce agitation and anxiety, but they can also engage and delight the user, stimulate reactions and encourage communication