If you grew up in Columbus between 1964 and 1999, what comes to mind when you think about COSI? Dozens of rolled-up sleeping bags for camp-ins at the museum? The coal mine? The Street of Yesteryear, with its mock storefronts of businesses at various stages of Columbus history? The electrostatic generator that made your hair stand on end? Or the constantly swaying Foucault pendulum, knocking down tiny blue and red pegs as it tracked the earth’s rotation?
These are some of the cherished childhood favorites from visits to the Center of Science and Industry, a dynamic place to discover science, technology and engineering.
First housed in Franklin County’s old Memorial Hall building at 280 E. Broad St.,
COSI moved to its current location at 333 W. Broad St. in 1999. Attending its November 6 opening that year was the last time I had visited COSI, so it was high time for me to get reacquainted with this eye-catching landmark on the west bank of the Scioto River.
Several classic COSI exhibits are still here, like the pendulum, the echo-free room in “Life,” and the country’s only highwire unicycle, which relies on the force of gravity as brave riders make a trip across COSI’s Atrium.
Some exhibits have become contemporary classics. In “Ocean,” Poseidon reigns over a playground exploring eroding sand, balls that balancing on water jets, and sonic fountains. A research habitat based on real ocean exploration technology includes submersibles, sonar and remote operated vehicles. In the next room, meet boa constrictors and admire mussels at Lily Pad, where lab stations lead to exploration about what happens in a watershed and the living creatures it supports.
On the second Tuesday of each month, COSI invites those 55 and older to participate in “Synapse: Inspiring Curiosity At Every Age,” a special event in which attendees explore exhibits and attend special presentations while the center is closed to the public. During this month’s program, Mansel Blackford, professor emeritus of history at The Ohio State University, presented “A Black Sailor in a White Navy: The World War II Experiences of James A. Dunn,” about a football-playing Central High School graduate who served a signalman on the destroyer escort USS Mason during World War II. Blackford, whose father was the ship’s captain during the war, transcribed and edited the diary that Dunn kept aboard the ship; On Board the USS Mason: The World War II Diary of James A. Dunn is a publication of The Ohio State University Press.
Attendees could also view D-Day: Normandy 1944, a film showing in the National Geographic Giant Screen theater through November 13. Narrated by Tom Brokaw, the film employs cinematographic techniques like animation, computer-generated imagery and live-action images as it explores the history, military strategy, and human stories behind this significant World War II event.