Science Museum of Minnesota

The Science Museum of Minnesota has lots of eco-innovations for you to discover. Do a self-guided walking tour of the energy features of Science House during the summer when the museum’s outdoor environmental science park, the Big Back Yard, is open. Look carefully at the streetlights in front of Science House to spot a temperature sensor mounted to one of the poles. This sensor is one of many installed across the Twin Cities by the University of Minnesota to study into how different urban landscapes affect air temperatures.

Investigate the Big Back Yard because it is loaded with exhibits (including mini-golf!) about rivers, ground water, landscapes and native vegetation. On the Kellogg Plaza overlook above the park, explore the displays about District Energy St. Paul’s combined heat and power plant next door to the museum and then use the binoculars for a close up view of the District Energy woods – the poplar trees planted in 2005 on the strip of land between the museum and District Energy and harvested every few years to illustrate the role of wood as a renewable fuel source for the power plant.

Inside the museum, spot the signs and bins encouraging you to help the museum to recycle and compost as much of its waste as possible. Then go up to Elements Café to see and learn about an innovative photovoltaic system that uses interesting technology to increase the amount of sunlight converted into electricity. Finally, check out the Future Earth exhibit, which explores our human-dominated planet. You can’t see the changes that have made behind the scenes to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of the museum. But you can play a pinball game in Future Earth that reveals how the energy efficiency of large buildings, such as museum, can be dramatically improved through the use of equipment that removes heat from where it is not wanted and transfers it to where it is needed.