Microscopes, water rovers and more: science fun at the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Students learn through exploring at the Grand Rapids Public Museum's Science Tuesdays.
Students learn through exploring at the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Science Tuesdays.

Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson makes his way to Grand Rapids this month, the Grand Rapids Public Museum sets the mood with a number of family activities in March all centered around science.


This week, the GRPM hosts its annual celebration of engineering week with school groups participating in an integrative Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics experience featuring activities from science and engineering. The week culminates in a public day Saturday, March 5.


“Basically all the stations that the school groups go through during the week are available for the public on that Saturday,” said the museum’s Marketing Manager Christie Bender.


Saturday’s programming focuses on STEM applications to create real world solutions to human problems and needs. Stations include creating underwater submersibles, design bridges, exams biomedical devices, manipulate robots, experiment with water systems and create concrete cookies using household ingredients.


“There are also special audience interactive events on the fifth where they can help drive an underwater rover that is in Florida waters from the Museum’s Theater,” Bender said. Underwater researcher and scientist Chris Olstad,and Grand Valley State University Professor Mark Gleason will be hosting live presentations at 10:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. from thirty feet below the water’s surface in Florida waters.


The GRPM also will be continuing its new, ongoing program Science Tuesdays, focusing on Zoology for the month of March. Stations will include hands-on activities, microscopes, animal x-rays, honey bee information and live animals every week. Today and March 8, animals from the John Ball Zoo will be at the GRPM from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Blandford Nature Center will bring in animals on March 15 and 22 from noon to 1 p.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. Dr. Rebecca Vincent will have animals from noon to 4 p.m. March 29 and she is also scheduled to be the guest speaker at 6 p.m. that day. Vincent will discuss wildlife rehabilitation. Presentations are free with general admission.


Also this month, the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association with the GRPM will be hosting the Winter Star Party March 11 and 12 at the Cascade Recreation Park, 3810 Thornapple River Dr. SE. The program is from 7:30 – 9 p.m. both days.


GRAAA members will have telescopes set up to allow public viewing of the crescent moon, Jupiter and various other sky features visible only during winter and early spring. During warm weather season, these features are below the horizon making them unable to be seen. Those attending this event are encouraged to dress for cold weather and to bring flashlights, binoculars and telescopes if available.


This event is weather dependent and will only take place if the sky is clear. Status updates will be posted on the GRAAA website, graaa.org.


For more information on these events, upcoming exhibitions or other activities at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, visit grpm.org. The Grand Rapids Public Museum is located at 272 Pearl St. SW.


Neil deGrasse Tyson comes of Grand Rapids March 21. He will be at DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. SW.