Summer exhibit highlights overlooked world of science outside

The speed of your throws in mph is shown on the monitor in the background when tennis balls or a football hits the target in “How Fast Can You Throw?”
The speed of your throws in mph is shown on the monitor in the background when tennis balls or a football hits the target in “How Fast Can You Throw?” PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES
Play build in “Backyard Adventures” before taking home instructions to build a billy cart or a bird box.
Play build in “Backyard Adventures” before taking home instructions to build a billy cart or a bird box.

IF YOU GO

What: “Backyard Adventures.”

When: Through Sept. 10.

Where: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Admission: Because this a special exhibit, admission is $5 for nonmembers in addition to general admission and $3 for individual and family members. Family plus members and above see it free. General weekday admission is $17.95; $14.95 for seniors 65+, students and military; $13.95 for children 3-12; $9.95 after 3 p.m. (available online only). General weekend admission is $19.95; $16.95 for seniors 65+, students and military; $15.95 for children 3-12.

Info.: Call (215) 299-1000 or visit www.ansp.org, www.facebook.com/AcademyofNaturalSciences or https://twitter.com/AcadNatSci.

“Who loves summer?,” asked George Gephart, the President and CEO of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Several hands went up among the students from Philadelphia’s Russell Byers Charter School that came to get a sneak peek at the Academy of Natural Sciences’ new summer family experience, “Backyard Adventures.”

Now open through Sunday Sept. 10, the exhibit has numerous interactive play stations that get your mind on getting outdoors and discovering the world of science out there.

“It proves that science is everything ... and we can participate in science. All you have to do is know how to look for it,” Gephart said.

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In a press release, the academy’s senior exhibits director Jennifer Sontchi said: “The kids are out of school and hankering to play. Here we’ll engage them with science and technology that will encourage everyone to continue discovering the wonders of their own backyard even after they leave the exhibit.”

Even the grown-ups will get challenged. In “Farmer Nick’s Giant Pumpkin Bonanza,” you have to try to figure out the best way to grow the biggest pumpkins, choosing what kind of fertilizer and how much, amount of irrigation, and what season to apply it.

In the “Food Web Pond,” you choose whether to be mosquito larvae, tadpoles, carp or a kingfisher, and go head to head in an eat-or-be-eaten video game. Or learn who would prevail in a game of “Plant vs. Insect.”

In one vignette that looks like a workshop, kids can tinker with plastic building toys, then take home instructions on building a bird box or a billy cart out of wood with a parent or guardian.

Get on a treadmill and “Walk through the Seasons” of a digital garden with changing scenes and sound effects. Or commandeer the bee bike in the “Nectar Collector” video game.

Fire up your pitching and quarterbacking arm in “How Fast Can You Throw?” There’s also a variation on a classic in “Skipping Rope.”

Match “Critter Calls” sounds with pictures of a chicken, dog, raven, rattlesnake, robin, tree frog and more.

Did you know dogs can’t see green or red, or a whole lot of detail, but have a wide range of sight and good night vision? Take a simulated look.

In “Digging in the Dirt,” you’re putting your hands in rubberized granules instead of dirt, but you get the same soothing, meditative effects of gardening while learning about the importance of soil.

Solve simple physics challenges with “Paver Puzzle” and the “Garden Golf” mini-golf course.

Kids can dress up like a favorite insect in “Dress up Your Imagination,” making for share-worthy photos.

And that’s not all. The academy’s Dino-Mite Summer programming offers something different every day related to the “Backyard Adventures” theme between July 5 and Aug. 30. Check back at www.ansp.org.