Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wichita Exploration Place

Francis here. While in Wichita on government training orders, I managed to find a little time to get to a few sights of the city. First up is the Exploration Place.

The Exploration Place is a learning center for people of all ages, similar to The Pink Palace in Memphis. Everything from local paleontology and animals to flight simulators fill the building.

I'm not great at simulated flying.

Wichita is home of the Cessna manufacturing corporation headquarters and boasts a very impressive area dedicated to flight. Here is a full sized Cessna airplane you can crawl into and view the controls up close.

And while they have flight simulators for Cessna airplanes, there are also flight simulators for the aircraft flown by the Wright Brothers. The controls are set up similar to the very first airplane was. A stick to move up and down, and a hip cradle the pilot laid in to control the pitch. I managed to do slightly better with the airplane that didn't go much further than twenty feet off the simulated ground.

The Exploration Place is also home to a very extensive Kansas prairie exhibit. It features displayed insects and plants as well as living animals you may run into in the flatlands of the state

This is a casting of a mammoth tusk found in 2005 while digging a road extension in Wichita. Tusks are often found in the state, but this is the first found in Wichita.

A bark scorpion sits under a black light. It isn't because there is a sweet rave party going on. Scorpions glow under black light.

While flight simulators are great, in the Kansas farmland area, there was a freaking combine simulator. I don't want to brag, but I think I could pick up a second career as a simulated farmer pretty easily.

On to one of my favorite parts: Kansas in Miniature. This exhibit showed a typical 1950s Kansas town, complete with working trains and an animated carnival.

One last exhibit is the KEVA display. Keva are 4.5 inch long wooden building planks. There's nothing to them other than that, but all you need is a little imagination.

My building abilities have improved little in the last 25 years.
There is plenty more to see at the Exploration Place, including a great Medieval setup for the little ones to run all over. The exhibits are always changing, and while I was visiting, MathAlive! was under construction.

General admission is $9.50, and the place is open from 10-5 most days. Find out more about their exhibits, including Death by Chocolate, from their website.

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