We had an incredible and interesting time exploring the Don Harrington Discovery Center in November of 2020 while in Amarillo for a long weekend. Apparently the center has over 8,000 square feet of hands-on fun and interactive touring exhibits. While there are a few permanent displays, the exhibits change every fall, spring, and summer to help guests discover something new each visit. It is nowhere as huge as the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, but just as interesting. FYI, I would probably compare it more to the St. Louis Science Center or the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. Anyway, after paying for our tickets we made a right and headed into the Sun, Earth, Universe Exhibit area.
Sun, Earth, Universe Exhibit
This area, which Gene was quite interested in, is based on current information from NASA’s science and research. It was developed and designed to help us understand how the Earth is changing, and what it is like on other planets. This exhibit also addresses the Sun and the effect it has on us. The Sun, Earth, and Universe display has been distributed nationwide by the National STEM Education Network. It was quite informational and fun to “play” with all the hands-on displays. We spent a lot of time in this section of the museum.
One of the exhibits allows visitors to follow the design, built, and test cycle of engineering and building a model spacecraft. One display I liked was a tumbler, can’t remember the name if it had one, which contained 10,000 beads representing all the stars we can see from the Earth. It was really cool.
Another display in this area was called Nano. This exhibit will help engage visitors in nanoscience, engineering, and technology. You will discover how different materials behave as they get smaller and work to build a giant nanotube. Visitors can also see and compare the effects of static electricity and gravity on different objects. Very interesting information.
This exhibit is mostly geared and designed to inspire younger children. They have giant blue foam blocks of all shapes and sizes, oversized cogs, wheels, spools, and tubes. Apparently these items are supposed to stimulate creativity in chidden of all ages while inspiring them to invent their own ways to play. Since we didn’t have any kids with us, I can’t vouch for this area, lol
We eventually made our way back to the front and headed left into the area called Maker Metropolis. I have to admit it took me a second to catch on to this exhibit. I thought it was something they were working on setting up, oops, my bad, lol. In actuality, the whole area is basically a construction site. You get to become your own architect, engineer, and construction manager if you wish. There are just displays as hand pullies, conveyor belts, a gravity crane, as well as a child-size crane.
We saw a few kids having fun building stuff with blocks, pipes, and gears. It is all designed to help children learn about size, weight, shape, balance, gravity, and stability. We had fun playing with some of the equipment and pulling on some of the pullies. Still more of a kid’s area, but it was enjoyable.
This area of the museum is also home to what’s called Critter Row. Here we were able to see live animals including their bearded dragon (real cool as one of my nieces has one), tarantula, and a snake. We actually go to get up close to the snake and bearded dragon while a few of their staff were out walking the floor with them. I loved that part a lot. Really cool. +
A little later we made our way into their full-dome planetarium for a science presentation. Through these movies you can voyage to the furthest reaches of our galaxy to examine black holes, stars, and planets; travel back in time to investigate ancient civilizations, or visit the deepest parts of our oceans and explore an active coral reef! Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the one we saw, but the shows change quite often, and it’s not playing anymore. As of this posting, they are currently showing:
Two Small Pieces of Glass
Outdoor Science Park
Once the movie was over we made our way outside to the science park near the front entrance of Don Harrington Discovery Center. This was a really fun area to explore. It has a fossil dig pit, a gazing ball, whisper dishes, chair lift and tennis ball launcher, a Kundu Drum, Grandioso Chinese Kettle Drum, and 2 life-size animatronic dinosaurs. It was fun watching the kids get all excited when they would walk by one and its tail would move :).
Gene and I really liked the drums and musical displays. What I found very interesting is this section only opened on August 25 of 2020, thus we were able to experience it not long after it opened. Yay for us, lol. On a side note, it is opened the same hours and the center and is free with admission.
We had a wonderful time exploring and learning while visiting the Don Harrington Discovery Center. If you are in the area, especially if you have kids, this should be on your to-do list. It is fun and something the whole family can enjoy and experience. We are very glad we took the time to visit. Here is their website with more information if you are planning on exploring the center yourself. I have a question for those who have visited in the past: “What did you learn during your visit?” Please leave a comment and let me know. 🙂 Look forward to hearing from you.
Don Harrington Discovery Center
1200 Streit Drive Amarillo, Tx 79106
9:30 am-4:30 pm
Children 2 and under – Free
Children (3-17)- $9
Students (17-22), (with college I.D.)- $11
Adults – $14
Military (with I.D.)- $11
Seniors (60+)- $11
Heading East on I-40:
Take the Coulter Street exit and turn left (heading north). Go north on Coulter to Wallace Blvd (2nd light past I-40). Turn right on Wallace, right on Hagy (the next street) and left on Streit Dr (the next left). The Discovery Center will be on your left.
Heading West on I-40:
Take the Coulter Street exit and turn right (heading north). Go north on Coulter to Wallace Blvd (2nd light past I-40). Turn right on Wallace, right on Hagy (the next street), and left on Streit Dr (the next left). The Discovery Center will be on your left.
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