HMNS at Sugar Land Adds a Grain of Salt with New Tech Hall, Opening Nov. 8


November 7, 2019
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HOUSTON, TX— The function of salt goes beyond its use as a seasoning. It is essential to human life, serving critical roles in maintaining health, including nerve and muscle function, the regulation of blood pressure and the balance of electrolytes. And beyond its bodily and culinary applications, salt is used extensively in many industries. It is a part of preserving food by slowing the growth of unhealthy microorganisms, creating soaps and shampoos in the cosmetic industry and manufacturing a variety of items ranging from paper to rubber to ceramics.

Salt—with its versatile and central theme to life—also serves as a common thread in the new exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land: Hall of Technology, opening Nov. 8.

“We chose salt because of its unifying nature for all areas in science, tying in chemistry, energy, geology and biology, and it has many more meanings and applications beyond that,” says Adrienne Barker, Director and Chief Development Officer of the Sugar Land location and the George Observatory. “It’s fascinating because there are so many different ways you can think about salt.”

Nestled in a city historically focused on sugar production, the new hall serves as an important resource for residents and the Greater Houston area by expanding educational opportunities for local schools, home-schooled children, and anyone seeking to learn more about chemistry and technology. Adults and children alike will be entertained and intrigued by the interactive and immersive exhibits throughout the hall.

“Being a science museum and seeing a large number of patrons and visits through students, we have a huge emphasis on education in STEM,” says Barker. “Most exhibits are designed to span the ages, appealing to adults, too.”

Furthermore, the Hall of Technology serves a secondary purpose to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the satellite location.

“We felt this was perfect time to update the Sugar Land location and give the Fort Bend County area a new exhibition,” explains Barker. “It’s a perfect time to update and refresh what we are doing in order to meet the growing needs of the community.” The oblong exhibit hall is split into four quadrants: chemistry, energy, geology and salt.

Chemistry
The Chemistry Exhibit examines the properties of matter and how it interacts with energy through live presentations and self-guided tours using interactive touchscreens for visitors to test their knowledge.

The upgraded Chemistry Demonstration Station provides a dedicated space for live presentations by volunteers from Baker Hughes as well as staff from HMNS. These teaching opportunities, appropriate for a variety of ages, provide an in-depth look at chemical changes and states of matter, observing various types of reactions and the byproducts they create.

Energy
Moving into the energy section provides visitors with an in-depth look at various sources of energy, including hydropower, wind, nuclear and fossil fuels. The interactive exhibit highlights the pros and cons of each type of energy while showcasing current technology in each area.

Geology
The Geology Exhibit highlights sand samples from around the world. Visitors are able to closely examine different sands under magnification stations, comparing their structure to their geological formations.

This section also walks visitors through the various geological elements used to create cell phones while connecting geology to salt domes—how they are formed and where they are found in the local area.

Salt
Salt under compression from the earth forms a toothpaste-like texture, which can trap oil and gas under the ground. These salt domes are found throughout the Gulf Coast region, with one less than a mile to the east of the Sugar Land museum in the Avalon neighborhood. The impermeable nature of the salt also makes salt domes an ideal storage site for numerous needs, including emergency crude oil reserves. Even though they are common throughout the world, what a salt dome is remains a mystery to many people.

A cutaway of a salt dome in the Salt Exhibit reveals what they look like under the ground if you were to slice a piece off the earth. A large-scale video presentation also shows what it’s like going down into a salt mine.

Outdoor Learning
Beyond the main exhibit area, the updated Life Sciences Exhibit will add an Outdoor Learning Center. This large covered space accommodates one to two student groups for the expansion of current programs led by volunteers, which aim to teach visitors about the environment and unique ecosystems through hands-on discovery. Students will get their hands dirty in workshops while being able to observe plant growth at difference phases.

Regardless of guests’ differing levels of science knowledge, the new Hall of Technology helps visitors develop a deeper appreciation for the world that lies all around us.

The Hall of Technology is included in general admission to HMNS at Sugar Land. For ticket prices or more information, visit our website at www.hmns.org/sugarland or call (281) 313-2277.

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The Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land—On Oct. 3, 2009, a historic prison building in the residential community area of Telfair opened to the public, transformed — as the new Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land. This satellite facility of HMNS includes five permanent galleries reflecting the most popular exhibit areas of the downtown Museum location. In addition to permanent exhibitions, the 43,000 square foot building and the surrounding 5.5 acres of land that house the museum present a variety of compelling traveling exhibitions. Located at 13019 University Blvd. (at the corner of University and New Territory Blvds.), a visit to HMNS at Sugar Land is always an adventure.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science

One of the nation's most heavily attended museums-is a centerpiece of the Houston Museum District. With four floors of permanent exhibit halls, and the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, Burke Baker Planetarium, and George Observatory, and as host to world-class and ever-changing touring exhibitions, the Museum has something to delight every age group. With such diverse and extraordinary offerings, a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, located at 5555 Hermann Park Drive in the heart of the Museum District, is always an adventure.

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Our Mission

The mission of the Houston Museum of Natural Science shall be to preserve and advance the general knowledge of natural science; to enhance in individuals the knowledge of and delight in natural science and related subjects; and to maintain and promote a museum of the first class.

HMNS at Hermann Park

5555 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston,Texas 77030
(713) 639-4629


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HMNS at Sugar Land

13016 University Blvd.
Sugar Land, Texas 77479
(281) 313-2277


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George Observatory

21901 FM 762 Rd.
Needville, Texas 77461
(281) 242-3055


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