30 years ago, on August 28th, 1972, the Impression 5 Science Center, then known simply as 'Impression 5', was opened, and moved to its current location on Museum Drive in Lansing, Michigan in 1982. Impression 5 was founded by Marilynne Eichinger, who also remained the executive director until 1985. In 1994, Impression 5 changed its name to 'Impression 5 Science Center', but is still commonly referred to as simply 'Impression 5', or 'I-5'.

The name 'Impression 5' refers to the museum's purpose, which is to encourage learning by using all of the five senses*: sight, sound, touch, taste, and hearing. Its mission statement is 'To facilitate learners of all ages in exploring, understanding, and appreciating the wonders of the physical world'.

Impression 5 is not a traditional museum of any sort: there are very few displays that can't be touched, handled, or played with. Children, especially those in elementary school, enjoy Impression 5's casual atmosphere. Learning is a key part of the museum's purpose, and is encouraged in the most hands-on way possible.

Every day at Impression 5, there are multiple demonstrations for people to attend. Each demonstration lasts for approximately 30 minutes, and in each demonstration, the attendees make a project or participate in an interactive experience of a scientific principle; they then discuss the scientific aspect of their project. Different principles are discussed with each different demonstration.

There are several different every day demonstrations: slime, structures, and simple machines. The slime demonstration (which costs $2) is the most popular, and students attending this workshop learn basic chemistry principles, such as molecules, physical and chemical changes, and the states of matter while making their own slime. The structures demonstration explores the forces of tension and compression, while also giving participants a better understanding of why buildings and bridges look the way they do; students attending the demonstration work in groups to make structures to reach a goal from paper and tape only. And the simple machines workshop demonstrates how humans use simple machines in every day life to make tasks easier; in this demonstration, students try to accomplish a goal, and then try again using simple machines.

There are also several different demonstrations for Overnight Adventures: slime, water, and sound. The slime demonstration is similar to the one above; the students make their own slime, but a more in-depth look is taken at the principles at work. The water demonstration takes place in the water exhibit. Participants experiment with buoyancy, volume, displacement, and other properties of water while using a lock system, pumps, and other equipment. The sound demonstration answers these questions: Can we see sound? How do vibrations affect what we hear? What does music have to do with science? Participants use an oscilloscope to visualize sound and investigate vibrations and sound waves produced by various instruments and voice. In addition, each person makes their own musical instrument.

Impression 5 Science Center is largely considered by the mid-Michigan community to be an important cultural and educational tool. The museum is located in downtown Lansing, next door to Riverwalk Theatre and just a block away from Michigan's capitol building. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and closed on Sundays, holidays, and, annually, the first full week of September.

*Obviously, Marilynne Eichinger and co. did not believe in a sixth sense.

Writer's note: I do realize that, grammatically speaking, numbers smaller than 11 are supposed to be spelled out, but the name of the museum actually uses the number 5.


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