The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium’s Journey Through the Human Brain, a $2.5 million, 2,500-square-foot permanent exhibit is now open after three years of development. According to Science Center President Lew Crampton, it is the most advanced exhibit on the human brain to be found anywhere in the world.
“This is a great day for our Science Center, which – from relatively modest beginnings – is rapidly becoming one of the top community-based science centers in the nation,” Crampton said. “Presenting an exhibit of such depth and breadth has been an incredible challenge, but we have drawn upon the talents and expertise of some of the top minds in our region and the world. We could not have done it without our incredible partners, and I am grateful for everyone who helped us create this important educational exhibit.”
Journey Through the Human Brain takes a bottom-up approach to telling the story of the human brain, from the molecular and cellular level to the integrated circuitry that creates our hopes, fears and memories. The exhibit encompasses a new west wing of the Science Center and includes multiple galleries. Guests are treated to 30 interactives appealing to both adults and children. The Introductory Gallery emphasizes the theme of the exhibit and will even feature a walk-through fog screen and an augmented reality brain projection. An immersive Brain Development Wall shows the growth of the brain over a lifetime. The “Lie to Me” interactive showcases how much effort the brain goes through to lie. The “Senses, Thoughts and Emotions Gallery” allows visitors to explore sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch.
Visitors will learn about ways to adopt a healthy brain lifestyle and students are encouraged to consider careers in health sciences.
The exhibit is a partnership between the South Florida Science Center and Florida Atlantic University’s Brain Institute. Dr. Randy Blakely, Executive Director of the FAU Brain Institute as well as Professor of Biomedical Science in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, along with Dr. Nicole Baganz, Brain Institute Director of Community Engagement and Programming, have been instrumental in the construction of the exhibit. Major components of the exhibit also feature significant hands-on participation from the Max Plank Florida Institute of Neuroscience and Scripps Research Institute of Florida.
According to Dr. Blakely, “the brain is endlessly fascinating, whether exploring how it generates our hopes and dreams or what goes wrong in brain disorders. Neuroscientists are giving us an increasingly detailed picture of how the brain is built and works, and we hope through this exhibit to inspire young minds to delve even deeper into brain science.”
Major funders for this exhibit include Quantum Foundation, the Stiles-Nicholson Foundation, John and Heidi Niblack, Robert and Christine Stiller, Willis H. duPont, Palm Health Foundation, and PNC Bank.
“This exhibit specifically addresses Quantum Foundation’s mission to fund education relating to health in Palm Beach County, and it is an honor to partner with such prestigious organizations to bring it to our local community,” said William Meyer, member of the board of trustees for Quantum Foundation. “As a health-focused foundation, it addresses so many of our Foundation’s priority areas and we are delighted to play a role in funding it.”
The Science Center also partnered with local community organizations including the Palm Beach County School District Medical Academies, Center for Child Counseling, Palm Beach County Substance Abuse Coalition and CareerSource of Palm Beach County.
“The trustees of the Stiles-Nicholson Foundation are proud to co-sponsor the Journey Through the Human Brain permanent exhibit as we believe that it will be transformational for STEM education in Palm Beach County,” said David Nicholson, BSc., LLD, CFA, chairman and founder of the Stiles-Nicholson Foundation. “The exciting scientific discoveries in the decade ahead will belong to neuroscience.”
The mission of the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is to “open every mind to science” and in addition to its fresh and saltwater aquarium and new backyard Science Trail, the indoor/outdoor venue features more than 100 hands-on educational exhibits, a digital planetarium, conservation research station, Florida exhibit hall, Pre-K focused “Discovery Center,” an interactive Everglades exhibit and the 18-hole Conservation Course – an outdoor putting course with science-focused education stations.
The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is located at 4801 Dreher Trail North in West Palm Beach and is open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Admission to Journey Through the Human Brain is included in regular ticket pricing, which is $17.95 for adults $15.95 for seniors, $13.95 for kids ages 3-12 and free for kids under 3. Planetarium shows and mini golf are not included in general admission pricing.
For more information, call 561-832-1988 or visit www.sfsciencecenter.org. Like the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @SFScienceCenter.