Mental Floss

Happy Birthday, Franklin Institute!

Erica Palan
Wikimedia Commons/Beyond My Ken
Wikimedia Commons/Beyond My Ken / Wikimedia Commons/Beyond My Ken

On this day in 1930, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Institute, named for Benjamin Franklin, is one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States, dating to 1824. All these years later, it hosts thousands of tourists yearly. Here, some of the coolest stuff at the Institute. (And if you come to Philly be sure to say hi to me @errrica!)

The Giant Heart

Perhaps the most famous exhibit at the Franklin Institute is the giant heart. Patrons can walk through to learn about human anatomy.

The Sky Bike

To learn about the center of gravity, the Institute installed the Sky Bike in 2000. It is the only high wire bike on the East Coast, and only the second in the entire United States. It sits 28 feet above the center's atrium. Guests pedal a two-wheel bike across a 60-foot wire only one inch in diameter!

The Flight Simulator

See what it feels like to experience aerial combat on the Max Flight Simulator.

Red-Tailed Hawks

In 2009, two red-tailed hawks built a nest on a window ledge at the Institute. Since then, they've been live-streaming the progress of the birds. Learn more about them over on the Hawk Watch blog.

Maillardet's Automaton

Amazing Machine, one of the Institute's permanent exhibits, allows visitors to experience a machine-like environment, including Maillardet's Automaton, which is said to have the largest cam-based memory of any automaton of the era.

The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial

In the main hall of the Institute, you'll find a 20-foot-tall marble sculpture of the center's namesake, Benjamin Franklin. It often serves as a site for gathering and concerts, as you'll see in the video below.