Carl's birthday trip to the Franklin Institute

Franklin Institute

Carl gets the day off for his birthday, so we took a day trip to the Franklin Institute, a science museum in Philly.

Ben Franklin Bridge

We entered Philly via the Ben Franklin Bridge, staying on-theme. That’s not hard - Philly is pretty serious about Ben Franklin.

(Also serious about: cheesesteaks.)

Garbage Day

We didn’t take the train (shoulda) so we had to park a ways from the museum since their parking garage was full. We got to see some neat rowhouses, and also a fact of big-city life: it was garbage day, so there were trash bags piled out in front of each stoop.


Philly has a bikeshare system, and the Institute is one of the bigger stations.


The first thing we hit was the travelling Pixar exhibit. They’ve done a pretty good job of showing the behind-the-scenes stuff, with an emphasis on the math that backs everything up. There were a number of kiosks with little video bios of people in different departments, so we steered Nate around to those and turned it into a career day.


The second thing we hit was a travelling Egypt exhibit, a thing which fascinated Carl as a kid. Nate pronounced it a boring subject until we got there, at which point he got absorbed in reassembling pottery, solving hieroglyphics, and so forth.

Climbing in a brain

One of the permanent exhibits is a brain function exhibit, which was pretty cool. It included a climbing thingy, because clearly kids’ brains need a break even in a place like this. Nate was not the oldest “kid” climbing around in this. The twenty-somethings who climbed out of it while we were waiting for him were a little sheepish, though.


The last thing we saw - the museum is really a multi-day affair - was the Amazing Machine exhibit. Carl and Nate set up a domino run, which had a neat feature: the first and last dominos are on hinges attached to the table, and they trigger a camera above the table. It replays your domino fall - chained to the videos of the previous uses, making a long, continuous domino run. Apart from the times kids just tip the starting domino and mug for the camera, anyway.

Commerce Square

We hiked back to our parking garage and then realized it was rush hour, so we rested in the courtyard and watched the fountains for awhile to let traffic clear. The highway going home was still pretty jammed, but we’re getting to be old hands at this big-city traffic (at least on the highways). Pretty soon we’ll have to tackle NYC (though really, really, we’ll need to take the train for at least the last part of that trip).