Special Report

Isehara Science Center
A fun space where you can experience science

A Science Center that focuses on experiences. If you come here, your eyes might be opened to the appeal of science
Isehara Science Center is a facility where children can experience the wonders and the fun of science, located in the same building as Isehara City Library. While a fuss has been made recently about a supposed “science phobia” in Japan, it is hoped that the new discoveries and inspiration that emerge by letting children freely touch, try out, and look at scientific discoveries will lead to “a budding spirit for science”.
Every Saturday and Sunday, Science Shows and various hands-on type events are held at the Center. In addition, a participation-by-recruitment science school and scientific construction class, as well as astronomy study meetings and parent-and-child community classes, are also held.
At the parent-and-child community classes, there is a “Toddlers’ Soap Bubble Area” where infants can make soap bubbles, and picture books are read aloud; at the scientific construction class, there is a “Gunpowder Rocket Activity”, where children can made a rocket that flies using a gunpowder engine, and launch it in the grounds of a junior high school; and at the science school, there is a “Mix and Be Surprised! Mysterious Water Experiment”, where participants can make various aqueous solutions and watch the chemical reactions.
The contents of the classes vary by each season, so if you want to know what kind of activities are taking place, you can check “Classes and Events for Visitors” on the website in advance and attend the classes on topics you are interested in.
By taking part, experiencing science and having fun, visitors will be sure to gain an interest in science.

Hands-on science in the substantial exhibition areas
At the Science Center there are many exhibits in the exhibition areas which are not only for looking at, but also for touching and feeling. With the overall theme of “Life Science”, there are 94 exhibits on display, spread across six exhibition areas.
For example, the “Living Earth” area is a zone which looks at the Earth from a macro perspective and considers the global environment. Exhibits include “Looking at Lightning”, where you can watch the usually invisible flow of electricity as a plasma arc inside a glass tube. I found myself fascinated by the mysterious sequence of movements.
Elsewhere, you can learn about the structure of Morse code in the “Various Languages” area, and in the “Evolution of Living Creatures” area, there is a display recreating the epic drama of life and the Earth, including an exhibit of a pteranodon, a flying dinosaur. In this way, there are many exhibits that can be enjoyed both by those who like machinery and those who like biology. Among these, the “Lift a Ball with Air” exhibit is fun for everyone who visits the Center.

Experience outer space with the planetarium and telescope
In addition to the exhibition areas, there is also a planetarium in the Center, which presents an introduction to the seasonal constellations. As well the general program, it offers programs aimed at parents and children, programs aimed at infants and younger elementary school students, and programs that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age; you can really have a fun time with this attraction. Please note that duration times vary from program to program.
When I visited, the general program “HAYABUSA – Back to the Earth”, focusing on the Hayabusa asteroid probe, the family program “Kamen Rider: the Fearful Global Warming Plan”, and the infant and early elementary program “Hello Kitty Everybody Together Star Sky Paradise!” were being projected in the planetarium. For group tours, a special projection for groups is apparently shown, so if you use the Center for children’s group activities, it might be good to inquire about this. I was told that there is also an educational program in accordance with the Japanese school curriculum guidelines.
Furthermore, there is also an astronomical observatory on the roof of the Science Center, which hosts astronomy meetings. You can experience using a 20cm diameter Coudé telescope, a size of telescope which is rarely owned by individuals.
Depending on the season, there is sometimes a daytime class called “Look at the Stars in Broad Daylight”, which can be freely participated in – so you can experience an astronomy show without having to go late at night. For those with an interest in space, I highly recommend it!
The various classes recruit participants on the Science Center website and also via “Kouhou Isehara”, which is published twice a month by the City Hall, so be sure to check. Recruitment closes when the classes reach full capacity, so please inquire to confirm the recruitment situation.

Photo 1
Isehara Science Center, which also holds a study camp for children from 4th grade in elementary school to first grade in junior high school.

Photo 2
A company display by Kawamoto Pump Manufacturing, which was involved in developing the analytical equipment for the particulate matter brought back by the asteroid probe Hayabusa.

Photo 3
The astronomical observatory in the dome on the roof of the Science Center. You can observe the night sky of Isehara with a Coudé telescope, which can be used even by wheelchair users.

Photo 4
The popular “Lift a Ball with Air” area.

Photo 5
The second floor exhibition room, equipped with a computer area on the right-hand side.