This is a review of the following Knoxville, Tennessee attraction:
East Tennessee Discovery Center
516 N. Beaman St.
Knoxville, TN 37914
Email: [email protected]
The East Tennessee Discovery Center is a hands-on interactive science museum. Generations of children have been spellbound at the exhibits and programs that are offered.
My kids enjoyed visiting the East Tennessee Discovery Center when they were young. It always made for an enjoyable afternoon. Although exhibits have been changed or expanded during the years it’s still a good way for families to spend quality time together.
Among the many exhibits inside the museum are Wentzscopes. According to the Wentzscopes website these are microscopes that are specifically designed with children in mind. Special specimen slides let kids get the experience of seeing small bugs or water drops under the microscope.
Two other ever popular exhibits include insects and live arthropods. The exhibit at the East Tennessee Discovery Center includes hissing cockroaches, a black widow spider, millipedes and more.
Kids also enjoy seeing live honeybees in action. Don’t worry mom and dad. The bees are safely behind a window. The special design gives the honeybees free access to the outside while creating a safe environment for the bees them inside.
Other things to see and do at the East Tennessee Discovery Center include the light and vision section, huge whisper dishes and the simple machines area.
The simple machines exhibit includes pulleys and levers. Kids can try to lift a heavy bag by themselves and then compare it to using a pulley. The whisper dishes are a fun way to learn about sound waves. Just don’t try to tell any secrets around them!
Perhaps the part of the museum that my kids liked best is the Akima planetarium. Recently, I spoke with the tech that runs the equipment. Running Tuesday through Saturday, the show runs 4 times daily for 30 minutes.
General audiences will see “The Sky Tonight”. Other titles are available for groups or field trips. Planetarium staff reserve the right to substitute another title in place of “The Sky Tonight” depending on the age of the group.
The East Tennessee Discovery Center is in Chilhowee Park near the Knoxville Zoo and TVA fairgrounds. There is plenty of free parking at the museum but getting there can be tricky.
Visitors should take I-40 to the Rutledge Pike exit 392A and follow signs to the Knoxville Zoo. Just before you enter the zoo parking lot you will see a street on the left and a large parking lot. Turn left onto the street. Turn right again in front of the pond.
After you go around a couple of curves you will see the entrance for the East Tennessee Discovery Center on the right. During the summer a zoo attendant will be at the entrance to the zoo parking lot. He or she will usually be glad to direct you to the museum if needed.
Families are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch. There aren’t any places at the exit to buy food and meals are not available at the museum. A shaded picnic area is next to the museum parking lot. Trash cans are placed at almost every table.
The East Tennessee Discovery Center is open Monday – Friday from 9 – 5 and on Saturday from 10 – 5. Admission includes the planetarium show. At the time of this writing adults pay $4, kids age 5 and up and seniors pay $3. Children age 3 and 4 pay $2. There is no charge for children under age two. Admission may change without notice. It’s always advisable to confirm with the museum before going.
Families should allow about 2 hours to see the museum including the show in the planetarium.
East Tennessee Discovery Center