MOSI offers a hands-on approach to science

The Museum of Science and Industry — known as MOSI, for short — has been a staple within the Tampa Bay Area for 30 years.

And, the tourist attraction is showing no signs of slowing down.

Last month, it unveiled its Dinovations Lab exhibit.

This large reptilian is a landmark to help tourists spot where to have a day of fun. (Brian Fernandes)

“The star of our Dinovations Lab is our full-sized Diplodocus dinosaur,” said  Anthony Pelaez, senior director of exhibits and innovation at MOSI.

The exhibit is a new addition, but Diplodocus — the centerpiece of the exhibit — is no stranger to frequent MOSI guests.

In 1998, a replica of the dinosaur’s skeletal frame was built and housed in the museum’s original building. Earlier this year, it was moved to the adjacent building to take its place among other exhibits.

But, the museum also has built an environment with a theme related to Diplodocus.

“The dinosaurs were always something that people kept asking for,” the exhibits director said. “When we made the transition, we decided to use this as an opportunity to create a dinosaur exhibition.”

The 90-foot-long Diplodocus clearly makes a statement — as it towers over everything.

And, inside the Dinovations Lab, fun awaits.

At the Cargo Loader station, guests can sit outside of a large rectangular dome with clear windows.

Ever wonder what it would be like to operate a driverless automobile? MOSI has an instructional video on how this one works.

Using a console, guests guide a hook to lift up the top of crates, which contain roaring dinosaurs.

There’s also a Paleo Lab, where visitors can analyze fossils using a microscope that zooms in and displays its findings on TV monitors.

The same concept is found at the Geo Lab station, where the focus of exploration is prehistoric rocks.

Dinosaur toys are set up for kids who want a little playtime and, behind a clear case, there’s a replica of the size and shape of a Diplodocus egg.

As guests roam from station to station, they can learn from facts that are posted regarding the gigantic reptile.

On any given day, for instance, Diplodocus ate 80 pounds of leaves and plants.

That may help to explain the reptile’s staggering weight of 29,000 pounds.

Pelaez said that the new exhibit has been well-received by the public.

He describes it this way: “It’s a fantastic way for them to get excited about the sciences.”

While an added amenity can be exciting, other existing exhibits continue to offer intrigue and instill awe among spectators.

The Bionic Man, on display at MOSI, shows how modern day technology helps to aid and advance the human body with artificial hearts, prosthetics and silicone.

Beside the Dinovations Labs is the Art Factory.

That’s where paintings galore can be found.

One might spot artist Michael Knapp at his usual spot painting the wonders of astronomy or technological innovations.

When kids feel like being proactive, they can sit at the Idea Zone exhibit.

Here, the youth can work on their own projects, whether they choose arts, crafts or building a customized robot.

The Connectus room gives visitors an opportunity to learn about technology, and provides a chance to imagine what the future may offer.

With touchscreen panels, guests can learn about the history of aviation and new developments that are expected in coming years.

Other touchscreen panels allow people to build their own ‘smart city,’ factoring in environmental needs, education, transportation and recreation.

State-of-the-art drones are on display, as is MOSI’s own driverless automobile — where guests can walk inside and tour.

Mission: Moonbase appeals to those who are fascinated by what lies beyond the Earth.

As one steps into this dim-lit space, a narrator explains the wonders of flying through the galaxy.

Various consoles offer a chance for guests to put their video game skills to work, maneuvering on the moon or other various planets.

With sound effects, the exhibit creates a sense of what it feels like at a launch pad and taking off into space.

As the newest addition to MOSI, the Dinovations Lab gives insight into dinosaurs, especially its comeback attraction – the 90-foot-long Diplodocus.

Slippery Science provides insight regarding how hockey arenas are set up, while the Saunders Planetarium gives guests a simulated tour though the solar system.

While roaming from one exhibit to the next, there are displays and activities that may stir one’s curiosity. Tug-O-War is one example of this.

By using a mechanical device, participants can tug a rope from both ends, trying to draw wooden objects in their direction.

Displayed in a clear, cylinder case, the Bionic Man stands tall showing spectators how modern science has advanced the human body.

His body is made of silicone, an artificial heart, dentures, prosthetics limbs and replaced joints.

The Hurricane Tube incapsulates guests in a chamber, where cranking up a speed dial allows them to experience the intense force of hurricane winds.

The Tesla Coil may seem intimidating at first as it requires the tips of a gloved hand to come in contact with an electrical discharge.

However, once a hand is placed inside, the metal-meshed glove and the start button is pushed, the only shock felt is the awe in what is being witnessed.

And, for those who want to venture outdoors, there is a playground, as well as an obstacle course made of ropes.

MOSI’s location across from the University of South Florida and along a busy main road, make it an easy attraction to spot.

While there have been past discussions about relocating MOSI to downtown Tampa that idea has been dropped, Pelaez said.

And, the museum is busy gearing up for new activities.

This month, it kicks off the ‘One Small Step’ summer exhibit, with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch into space. The exhibit will offer an extensive history on the mission.

With new amenities on the rise, the museum takes pride in using fun and creativity to educate tomorrow’s leaders, Pelaez said.

“There’s a lot to be said for the power of imagination in science,” he said.

Museum of Science and Industry
Where: 4801 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa
When: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $12.95 for ages 13 to 59; $10.95 for age 60 and up; $7.95 for ages 3 to 12; free admission for age 2 and under
Details: This historic landmark in the Tampa Bay Area merges science and technology with hands-on fun, whether for a class field trip or an entire family.
Info: Call the museum at (813) 987-6000, or visit

Published May 08, 2019


  1. Alan Becker says

    I have not been to this museum in years. When I did visit I recall thinking the museum was very poor run and mostly geared to kiddies. Exhibits were poor, and uninteresting. All the space in the world cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear. This, and the Tampa Museum of Art were very disappointing. Could this be a time for re-appraisal?

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