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Make STEM-Learning an Adventure: Tour the Science Mill in Johnson City

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Have you ever noticed the repeating patterns—or fractals—in a Romanesco broccoli? You’ll certainly remember them after you experience the Fractalarium, a unique experience combining art and science in a 40-foot re-purposed grain silo at the Science Mill in Johnson City. The mission of this nonprofit science museum in the heart of the Texas Hill Country is to expand visitors’ understanding and appreciation of science in their everyday lives. Imaginatively repurposing what was once a gristmill constructed in the 1880s by the uncle of Lyndon B. Johnson, the Science Mill works to ignite a passion in children for learning and participating in interactive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

Make STEM-Learning an Adventure: Tour the Science Mill in Johnson City

Photo: Science Mill

Their STEM exhibits and activities are grounded in imaginative and creative means, helping kids discover the fun side of science! The exciting and interactive learning environment that the Science Mill offers has been developed using state-of-the-art exhibits, programs, and games that are specially curated with kids in mind—but fun for all ages.

Make STEM-Learning an Adventure: Tour the Science Mill in Johnson City

Photo: Science Mill

The Science Mill features more than 50 interactive exhibits, which are world-class in nature, and a 3D theater. Opening its doors in 2015, the reinvented space is bright and modern, with an open feel to it. By maintaining the architectural integrity of the original gristmill building, the Science Mill has achieved a design that incorporates a historic Texas structure with the scientific dreams of the future. The evolution of the mill from an industrial/agricultural setting to a place that can produce the science leaders of tomorrow is practically an exhibit in its own right. Combine creative, hands-on STEM learning through such things as augmented reality, art, kinetic technology, and computer gaming and it’s a draw for families of all permutations and combinations! Each exhibit also incorporates a brief bilingual description in English and Spanish, which allows visitors to fully enjoy their experience in a more participatory and experiential manner—leaving behind lengthy instructions and how-to’s. To complement this, “Explainers” who are highly trained in each of the exhibits have also been positioned throughout the museum to answer visitor questions.

Make STEM-Learning an Adventure: Tour the Science Mill in Johnson City

Photo: Science Mill

Upon entering the Science Mill, kids can create their own avatar, which travels with them throughout each exhibit. This is a custom-designed personification of each child that helps to explain more about each exhibit and how it relates to science in everyday life and careers! And while the bigger kids experience the interactive exhibits, there’s also a specially-designed area made for the tinier family members to experience STEM-focused play. There’s also the Lady Bird Lane Café (an onsite farm-to-table restaurant named in honor of the former First Lady), and plenty of picnic tables in the museum’s outdoor space for those who want to pack a lunch.

The Science Mill exhibits are strategically placed throughout the entire museum, including the lobby and three studios (one of which is a Bio Lab), within the original gristmill grain silos, as well as outside. The outdoor Science and Art Park includes a number of large-scale, interactive exhibits such as a 30-foot-tall Colossal Robotic Hand, a Fossil Dig, a Giant Wave Pendulum, and the Incredible Ball Machine. There’s also a 1K-square-foot Aquaponics Greenhouse!

Make STEM-Learning an Adventure: Tour the Science Mill in Johnson City

Photo: Science Mill

The Science Mill is a great place for field trips, birthday parties, summer camps, and special events. A visit to the Science Store/gift shop located in the lobby is the perfect close to a visit here, which is home to the largest selection of science-based toys, games, and books in the Texas Hill Country. The entire experience ignites and inspires a curiosity in and passion for science unlike any other!

While you’re in Johnson City, children and families can explore the area, including a visit to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, the Exotic Resort Zoo, and the annual Christmas Lights Spectacular! Kicking off the holiday season on the Friday night following Thanksgiving, the city is renowned for one of the best light shows the Hill Country has to offer, with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, carriage and hayrides, parades, and special events. It’s a great way to round out a family trip to the Science Mill, Johnson City, and the Texas Hill Country! In conjunction with the Lights Spectacular’s thirtieth annual kick-off weekend, the museum’s doors will be open to visitors every day Thanksgiving week (except Thanksgiving Day), with extended hours (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) on Friday and Saturday.

Visit the Science Mill’s website at the link available here for exhibit details, admission information, and discount pricing for military and seniors. If you would like to keep updated on their current and upcoming events, you can also find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.