The Madatech National Science, Technology and Space Museum in Haifa, is a large museum crammed with hands-on activities that will please both adults and children. Not far from the Bahai Gardens, in the Hadar neighbourhood of Haifa, the museum is housed in the large edifice which is the old Technion building. The Madatech building was built in the early 1910s, visited by Albert Einstein in 1923 and then made into a museum in 1984. Today the museum hosts some 200,000 visitors annually, many of them children on school trips.
Madatech – Main Building
The Madatech National Science, Technology and Space Museum can be broken up into five parts for mapping out. The ground floor of the main building contains the front desk, a café, a children’s play area, a gift store and several exhibits such as the history of the printing press and The Road to Safety Exhibition. In the Road to Safety Exhibition children and adults can sit side-by-side on crash simulator, operated only by a museum guide, which proves the need for seatbelts while driving. Be prepared, the crash is quite a jolt! Continuing up a narrow staircase (elevators are also on-site), the first floor comes to view. On the first floor are exhibitions such as the Natural Science Room with over 100 stuffed animals and birds all found in the Haifa area including eagles, mongooses and jungle cats. Other exhibitions include Puzzles & Games, Green Energy and Acoustics & Waves, all going into depths with hands-on displays and tools for everybody to benefit from. In the Green Energy exhibition children can learn about combustion, solar power and light power, many of the displays featuring little lights that illuminate with the power generated at the display. Children can also race sailboats on a table with fans, mapping out wind currents with guided lines on the table. Also on the first floor is the Einstein Hall where an exhibition was made in honour of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first and only astronaut. Included in the exhibit are some of his personal belongings found at the crash site of the Columbia space shuttle that tragically crashed on descent over Texas.
Madatech – Aviation Hall
Continuing on upstairs to the second floor, many more exhibitions can be found. The Magical Science exhibition room shows how classic magic tricks can be explained with the use of elementary science. Tricks such as the bed of nails can be understood when learning the law of weight distribution. The Aviation Hall goes into great lengths covering the various forms of flight including a hot air balloon and a helicopter in a case that one can fly with joysticks to learn the effects of air propulsion. Another room contains models of many of Leonardo Da Vinci’s genius inventions on aeronautics, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and physics. One of the rooms that children may like best is The Dark Room – an exhibit of lights, plasma, electric charges and lasers. Standing in front of the phosphorescent wall and seeing one’s after-image “burned” onto the wall is something nearly magical, not to mention the fascinating plasma ball.
Once completed with the internal expanse of the museum, step outside for some fresh air and exercise. In the courtyard is the Noble Energy Science Park, a park of scientific games and models that can be played with. One such example is Da Vinci’s original helicopter sketch where children and small adult can climb inside a “helicopter” and “fly” with manual power such as pedalling. Also in the park is the pendulum swing where one simple push can last a very, very long time on the swing – another of Da Vinci’s genius inventions. Arguably the most popular activity is all of the Madatech museum complex is the Boyo, a human yo-yo, where kids and adults can launch themselves 4 meters into the air and come back down for a bounce and re-launch. This can result in very sore arms the next day so beware not to spend too long as a yo-yo! Also on display in the park is a retired Israeli Air Force F-21 “Kfir” warplane.
In a building parallel to the main exhibition building, across the Noble Energy Science Park, is the Sports Science Exhibition. Inside, visitors can try their hand on a variety of sport-related activities such as rowing, karate, balancing and basketball. Find out if your karate chop is lethal or if you have the speed it takes to out-row your friend!
Madatech – Boyo (Human Yo-Yo)
For a small additional charge, experience Madatech’s Cinematrix – an innovative SMART theatre catering to all of the human senses simultaneously. The theatre includes multi-interactive systems with 3D, multi-channel sound system and smart seats with built-in ticklers and dual-motion capabilities – all accompanied with scents, air flows and water effects. Seize the remote control and interact with the characters that pop out of the screen at you with the 3D technology. Film features include space, safety and flight. All films are in Hebrew but English films are available with advanced reservation. Be sure to call the museum ahead of time to check film availability.
By: Shem Tov Sasson. A Contributing Journalist for Tourist Israel, Shem Tov lives in the small Israeli city of Ma’alot. His personal blog about his experiences and adventures in the Holy Land can be found at Israel’s Good Name.