The Ultimate “Don’t Try This at Home” Exhibit

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Don’t try this at home. The very words are liable to strike dread in any parent’s heart. So when you first hear the name of the new exhibit at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry), you might be tempted to avoid the museum for the next few  months at all costs. But fear not! We visited what may be the ultimate “Don’t try this at home” exhibit:  MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition, with the goal of seeing if it was too crazy for the littlest of kiddos. And we emerged with two (only partially blown-off) thumbs up.

Just kidding! The exhibit, based on the popular Discovery Channel TV show,  is truly safe fun for all ages. In fact, the only explosions you’ll see are the ones in your kidlets’ brains as they try to bust some favorite myths. Here are some of the burning questions you and your kiddos can explore together!

Myth: If you’re caught in a downpour do you stay drier if you run like mad or if you lollygag on toddler time?
The exhibitors have developed a cool “rain chamber” that is divided into two corridors:  one for a walker; one for a runner. Mosey or move, and after, check yourselves out in the full-length mirror. A light will show how wet you are, thanks to the tunnel’s extra- special “liquid sunshine,” which contains glow-in-the-dark fluorescence (totally stainless and harmless!).

MB rain tunnel 1

Myth: Does toast always fall butter side down?
Don’t worry…we won’t judge what you do when toast meets floor. But your kids will love using this low-tech toast throwing station which uses cranks, launchers and other catapults to test their theory…and an abacus to count up how many times it lands buttered or unbuttered side down.

MB Toast 2

Myth: Can you yank out a tablecloth without disrupting the dishes?
Now, really, MythBusters, who needs to know this?! But, even if you don’t feel you need another party trick, this one is irresistible, and it’s not as easy as it looks. Good thing they stocked the exhibit with non-breakable dishes — just like at home! Tea parties everywhere will be going rogue after this exhibit!

MB tableclothMyth: Can an ordinary playing card really be used as a dangerous weapon?
Can your kiddos read yet? No? Then don’t read this sign to them. Let them hurl, fling, and pitch cards to their hearts’ (and spades’) content. This exhibit kept many a tot enthusiastically engaged, without once making them think of using their deck for a club.

MB card fling 2

Myth: Was the Big Bad Wolf right? Can you huff and puff and blow a house down?
Build your own house of bricks and then use an air cannon to find out if that third pig was full of hot air…or whether his vastly superior building skills really were able to combat the elements of the Big Bad Wolf.

MB bricks 1

Myth: Can you really hang from a ledge by your fingertips until help comes?
Well, this might be good to know. You know, for all those mountains you scale…or maybe for that second-story window if you have to escape a fire? (On second thought, let’s not share that scenario.) This was surprisingly popular as kids wanted to “hang around” for quite a while. Why not try it yourself and get in a tri workout while you’re there? There are two ledges: “novice,” which is a little wider, and “expert.”

MB ledge 2 it is horiz she is hanging that way

Myth: Can superheroes change faster than mere mortals?
Oh yeah, there’s a full-on phone booth for all your Super Girls and Boys! Choose from a wide variety of superhero-esque clothing (capes included!) and time how fast they can change from super kid to super hero in the phone booth. (After you answer your kids’ first question: “What’s a phone booth?”)

MB phone booth 1

And finally, one for the Germ Freaks among us:

Myth: What is germier: a toilet seat or a kitchen sponge (or a light switch, money, etc.)?
Well, this one might be a total fail because I bet the exhibitors are considering the sponges of the general public (not smarty smart Red Tri parents!). Yes, most sponges are germier than almost anything…but I bet ours aren’t!

MB sponge

In addition to the interactive hands-on exhibits, there’s a “stage show” based around the hypothesis “Can you dodge a paintball?”MB Paintball 1

Your hosts begin with all the “don’t try this at home” disclaimers, and then end up putting their “subject” into safety gear only one notch below that of a hazmat professional. The show is appealing to all ages, and teaches the kids about hypotheses/variables/controls/plausibility, etc. in a really fun way.

MB phone booth 2

As you exit the exhibit, there’s a place where kids can submit their own myths. Take a minute to read the cards that are posted…they are pretty funny. One was clearly from someone in Portland: “Can you be blown in the air by your umbrella or will it break before you leave the ground?”

But what’s the most super cool thing about this exhibit? The fact that it makes science cool for our kiddos. Take science out of the lab, with its white coats and beakers, and into everyday life. That is the ultimate lesson to take home: Do try this at home. Look around, ask questions, and test your results. And, never fear: those MythBusters have got our backs, parents. Visit for a whole bunch of “Do try this at home” experiments.

MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition runs at OMSI from February 8th to May 5th, 2013.The exhibition will visit 15 cities within the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit

Admission for adults is $18; youth (3-13) and seniors (63+), $13; member adults, $5; member youth/senior, $3. Prices include admission to the museum.

1945 SE Water Ave
Portland, Or 97214

This exhibition is sponsored locally by Mentor Graphics and Unitus Community Credit Union.

Are you kiddos fans of the show? Which of these exhibits will be a hit with your little Mythbusters?

— Cathie Ericson

Photos courtesy of Cathie Ericson

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