The Museum of Life and Science in Durham opens a new exhibit on Saturday that, I suspect, will be a very popular spot on hot, summer days.
With a large mist dome, a misty mogul field and a rain tree, along with shady spots across the site, there are plenty of spots to beat the heat in Into the Mist.
"It should be very cooling," said Jim Phillips, landscape architect with the museum who worked on the project.
Into the Mist, which sits in the Catch the Wind exhibit area, focuses on how water and wind shape topography, but kids likely will focus on opportunities to get wet. I got a preview of the exhibit a couple of weeks ago, though haven't seen it in action.
The artistic mist dome, made of metal pipe, sits at the entrance to the exhibit. The mist, when activated, rises up from thousands of mini mist heads embedded in the ground. Within 20 to 30 seconds, Phillips said, the mist will totally envelope you like a heavy fog.
"You won't be able to see from front to back," he told me.
It's a similar set up in the mogul field. (It's worth noting that the grass in the dome and mogul field is artificial to avoid a big mud pit).
The difference between the mist dome and mogul field is that there is no structure above the moguls to keep the mist from moving with the wind.
"The wind will fully affect the mist and you will be able to see what weather does to mist and fog as it rises from the ground," Phillips said.
Near the exit of the exhibit is the large metal rain tree, which sits on top of a rocky area covered with sand. Kids can build with the sand and watch what happens as water from the tree sprinkles down, changing the shape of their creations or washing it away all together.
I imagine some kids will spend a lot of time in this spot, which combines two kid favorites - water and sand.
There are other spots to explore here too including "gopher holes," which lets kids see what it's like to crawl underground. They can run through the natural living willow tunnels or relax in a forest hut made of natural material.
You'll find tree-covered spots with benches to relax. And the entire exhibit is surrounded by a fence, a nice bonus for parents.
There's more here to explore too. And the exhibit will change some as grasses and other plants reach maturity. I'm excited to check this out with my own kids now that the mist is turned on.
Into the Mist is free with admission to the Museum of Life and Science, which is $14 for adults and $10 for kids 3 to 12. On the fourth Friday of each month through September, admission is just $5 from 5 p.m .to 8 p.m.