It is an indisputable fact: subs are cool. Housed beneath the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago lies U-505, the German submarine that was captured way back in '44 while skulking about the waters off the shores of West Africa. Not only is the sub fantastic to behold inside and out, but the history lesson alone as you approach the behemoth is incredibly enlightening. Even the infamous Enigma coding device is on display, whose capture changed the course of the war. There are audio and video clips throughout the exhibit, and interactive stations where parents and kids alike can relive the submarine experience. Quick local tip: Visiting the sub and the surrounding exhibits is included in the main entrance fee to the museum. However, you must purchase a separate ticket to enter the sub. And by all means, get these tickets in advance, as they usually sell out pretty quickly. And then dive into history (I couldn't resist).
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Do your kids think that science 'isn't cool,' or that science isn't a 'big deal?' Well then, I have the solution to your educational challenge: Science Storms! This highly interactive and educational exhibit covers seven natural occurrences: lightning, fire, tornados, avalanches, tsunamis, sunlight and the motion of atoms. And when I say 'covers,' I mean taking it out of the textbook or the iPad, and putting YOU right in the middle of it all. Stand in a spinning vortex, or watch how sand changes as it moves in slow motion on an enormous rotating plateau, science literally surrounds you. And hey, these activities are far safer than trying to re-enact Benjamin Franklin flying a kite in a storm.
Anyone who's into model trains should visit the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Originally opened in 1941, The Great Train Story was the largest model train of its day. After being briefly shuttered in 2002 for extensive additions, this O gauge two-track train set is truly something to behold. The model stretches from downtown Chicago to the western seaboard of Seattle.
The level of detail is absolutely staggering, and you can spend hours looking for such unique sites such as Marilyn Monroe in her famous white dress being caught in the wind, to King Kong (albeit on the wrong building since New York isn't included), to the Chicago Police Department fishing a body out of the river after a hit from Capone's fellas! And just to give some idea of the size, in the photo above (which hardly captures the immense scale) you will see a large passenger plane suspended above it. The Great Train Story currently runs 30 trains at a time, more than enough for everyone to create their own unique tale while visiting.