Discovery Center

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Featured Exhibit


Upcoming Featured Exhibitions

Fall 2018: Thomas & Friends™: Explore the Rails

September 21 – December 30
Featuring the favorite engines and destinations from Thomas & Friends, the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) -focused exhibit seeks to engage children, ages 2 through 7 years, and families in foundational skills that foster STEM literacy through playful learning experiences. The exhibit incorporates foundational STEM practices that encourage thinking mathematically, making comparisons, experimenting to solve problems using a variety of methods and tools, thinking creatively and reflecting on actions and results.

Visitors to the 1500 square foot exhibit will be delighted as they find themselves surrounded by the Island of Sodor’s iconic locations: Knapford Station, Sodor Steamworks and much more. In the exhibit, children help Thomas and his friends solve a variety of challenges, from a simple sorting and shape identification activity to more complex engineering obstacles, such as completing a train track using track pieces with different levels of elevation. As children confront new challenges and test their abilities, the smiling faces of Thomas, Percy, Victor and others are there to offer encouragement and remind children how “really useful” they all are.

Admission: $5 for guests ages 4 and up
*Please note: this is an additional cost to your required general admission.

Spring 2019: Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO® Bricks

January 18 – May 5

Fall 2019: Hot Wheels

August 30 – January 5, 2020

Spring 2020: Astronaut

January 17 – May 3


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Children's Exploration

Activity and hands-on stations are abundant in this gallery for children, sponsored by Simmons Bank. Children can enjoy a “water works” area featuring experiments with geysers and whirlpools while learning about physical properties of liquids. Other activity stations feature the human senses of sight and smell as well as an architectural section which allows creativity in building structures. Special sections for small children include our “ripple pond” for infants and the “fantasy forest” for toddlers. Visitors of all ages will be delighted to enter a 48-ft. sculptural human figure on the upper level where they can take in the sights of the Grand Hall before sliding down the leg of the human figure to the entry level floor.

For safety reasons, children must be three feet tall to slide down the giant human slide.

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Interaction is the focus of this gallery, which contains a 20-foot model of a generator that converts energy into electricity. Activity stations surround the generator and allow visitors to use their own muscle to turn turbines, which illuminate the tower in bands of light. Solar, fuel, and heat exhibits highlight uses for these alternative energy sources.

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Enter this mysterious gallery through a bookcase door to view a unique and eclectic mix of artifacts from local and foreign lands. Cast in a faint blue light, this versatile gallery features a piece of sunken treasure, musical instruments, and African artifacts. A suit of armor is on display, as well as a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.

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Since the nation declared independence and achieved it with military force, war has affected almost every person in the United States. This gallery exhibits many examples of military equipment, both U.S. and foreign, as well as life in the military. The Civil War is featured with a replica of an ironclad that operated on the nearby Mississippi River. A PT-17 Stearman airplane from WWII is suspended in the south atrium as a tribute to the hundreds of pilots who received their flight training at a nearby military airfield. Several videos record the military experience of area service personnel.

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Native Americans

An Ice Age woolly mammoth greets visitors as they begin a journey through exhibits with many taxidermy specimens and period objects. A hologram displays a mythical figure recounting Native American legends and beliefs. An animated map displays possible routes the first people in America may have taken, and visitors can walk through the chronology of five Native America cultures: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian, and Historic.

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Natural History

Several large dinosaurs and a large illuminated projection globe are the focal points of this gallery. A huge Apatosaurus greets visitors as they descend the escalator and other large specimens, including a T-Rex, wait on the lower level. The projection globe can display the earth’s past and current internal and external geologic processes. Surrounding exhibits represent different time periods, beginning with the Paleozoic Era, which features fossils and recreations of the underwater world that was once the nation’s heartland. Visitors can explore the Mesozoic Era with dinosaurs before concluding their walk through the Cenozoic Era, which depicts animals through the glacial environments of this period.

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Regional History

With a focus on water and regional aquatic life, many aquariums and terrariums are on display, including a 20,000-gallon aquarium that features living creatures from Reelfoot Lake, such as gar, bass, crappie, and turtles. However, the greatest thrill in this gallery is in the simulation theater where visitors can “enjoy” an earthquake with a 270-degree viewing experience and special effects, complete with sounds and tremors, similar to those that shook this area in the formation of Reelfoot Lake 200 years ago. Life in this region is portrayed with many regional artifacts, as well as videos of residents recounting their experiences in the area, including American legend David Crockett.

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Science, Space & Technology

Take a trip through the universe in our “interactive starship theater” with a 160-degree dome screen that allows visitors to launch a spaceship from Earth and steer it through the planets and stars. The technology showcase includes a working replica of the Gutenberg printing press and other innovations that link past communications technology to the present. Exhibits answer many questions about our universe, including moon phases and meteorites, and feature live images of “our star” from a NASA solar scope.

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Visitors can enjoy a showcase featuring 60 years of the American automobile. Exhibits include period objects and displays and walk-through exhibits of early cars such as the Model T, luxury cars including W.C. Fields’ 1938 Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine, and three race cars, one of which is the NASCAR 2007 Chevy Budweiser #8.

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