Making science appealing to children is something at which the Houston Museum of Natural Science excels, especially in the Wiess Energy Hall where the technology of oil and gas production is brought to life with animated films, interactive monitors, and projected talking homunculi to capture youngsters' imaginations. The Energy Hall's pièce de résistance is the Geovator, which takes you on a simulated trip to the bottom of an oil well to discover how oil is brought up to the surface from a reservoir deep in the earth.
In the Welch Hall of Chemistry huge touchscreens allow visitors to 'change' the arrangement of atoms in molecules to see what happens. Children can also 'zap' molecules with light to see the impact of different colours, or learn how chemistry is used in solving crimes.
The Wiess Energy Hall in the Houston Museum of Natural Science
The huge Morian Hall of Paleontology requires no interactive exhibits to thrill youngsters and adults alike, with more than 30 dinosaur skeletons in 'action' poses, including the jaw bones of a megalodon shark which was so huge it could eat a woolly mammoth!
Among my favourite exhibits was the Strake Hall of Malacology (the study of molluscs) with its huge collection of shells, and the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, including the Ausrox Gold Nugget, one of the world's largest, which was discovered in Australia in 2010.
You need a whole day to explore all 15 permanent exhibition halls in the Houston Museum of Natural Science, especially if you want to include the Cockrell Butterfly Centre, the Burke Baker Planetarium and a movie in the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, all of which are not included in the general admission price. There are a handful of special, changing exhibitions, which also cost a little extra.
The Morian Hall of Paleontology, the Houston Museum of Natural Science
Eating options in the museum are limited to a McDonald's in the entry hall, although it you ask a member of staff they will tell you where else you can eat a short walk away. I opted for a café in a nearby medical institution.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is located in the museum district on Hermann Park Drive. There is plenty of paid parking nearby and the Museum District stop on the city's Metro Light Rail system is only three blocks away.
Cost:Adult Ticket: $20 (ages 12 and up) Child Ticket: $15 (ages 3-11) Children ages 2 and under: FREE College Students with ID: $15 Seniors (62 ): $15 Military (with ID): $15 Groups (20 ): $7 School Groups: $3.50