If your inquisitive tot has ever asked you what his brain looks like, or your active adventurer has ever wondered how her muscles work, you’re going to want to take them to the new Body Worlds: Pulse exhibit at the California Science Center to show them first-hand exactly how their body works.  Who says you have to stop learning because it’s summer?

photo: Shahrzad Warkentin

Bodies In Motion
Body Worlds: Pulse is no ordinary science exhibit. Combing both basic anatomy and lessons in the importance of keeping your body healthy, the exhibit features plastinated specimens (for the curious this means removing natural fluids and replacing with plastic that starts out pliable and then hardens) of real donated human bodies, broken down to their muscle tissue, bones, and inner organs. Everything from whole bodies, to organs and translucent slices, makes up the exhibit of over 200 different specimens. Each display tells visitors a different story, not only about how the human body works, but also why it’s important to take care of the body you have.

photo: © Institute for Plastination 2017

Healthy, Healed and Hardened

The galleries are divided into different systems of the body and curious kids, and grown-ups too, will encounter sights like a broken leg that has healed, hardened arteries, and the lungs of a non-smoker versus a smoker. In contrast, you’ll also see healthy, athletic bodies in various poses, like two football players in mid-tackle, as well as parts of the body and how they work, like the spine, central nervous system, and digestive track.

You can try your hand at giving CPR chest compression on a display dummy, as well as using 3D animation to see the various levels of the body, from skin down to bones, as you move a figure using your own body’s movements.

photo: Shahrzad Warkentin

What Might Cause a Commotion
While we recommend the exhibit for kids 7 & up, there are a few things to keep in mind before deciding if a visit to the exhibit is a good fit for your own kids. First, the experience will definitely raise questions about how parts of the body work, so be prepared with answer. It’s also important to note that all of the male, full-body specimens have their reproductive organs intact and on full display, so if that’s not something you’re comfortable with encountering, you will probably want to sit this one out.

There are also two sections of the exhibit that are sensitive in nature. The first features several specimens of fetuses at various stages of growth, however there is a sign posted before you enter that section and you can bypass it easily. The second exhibit, which is completely off limits to children under 17 without an accompanying adult, features a male and female in the act of reproduction. This section is separated from the rest of the exhibit and guarded by a museum employee so there’s no chance of any accidental viewing.  Just good to know, before you go!

If you’re still unsure if the exhibit is right for your family, you can read the one-page parent guide online.

But, if you’ve got young scientists and deep thinkers, this exhibit is thoroughly engaging and fascinating for kids and parents alike.  And it’s a great jumping off point for a discussion on how too much pizza and summer ice cream does not do a body good!

photo: Shahrzad Warkentin

All the Details
The Body Worlds: Pulse exhibit is now open ‪through February 20, 2018. While admission to the ‪California Science Center is free, you have to purchase a timed ticket to enter the exhibit. Tickets are $19.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids 4-12. Children under 4 are free, but we don’t recommend this exhibit for kids that young. Ticket price includes free entrance into the Endeavor Space Shuttle. Parking is $12. No children under 12 are allowed in the exhibit unaccompanied by an adult. We definitely recommend purchasing tickets in advance online.

California Science Center
‪700 Exposition Park Drive
‪Exposition Park
Online: californiasciencecenter.org/exhibits/body-worlds-pulse

Have you visited the Body Worlds: Pulse exhibit, or one of the other Body Worlds Exhibits?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

—Shahrzad Warkentin