Seven Daysies Awards: Best museum, 2011

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Best museum 

Shelburne Museum & Montshire Museum of Science

Inside Chittenden County

Shelburne Museum

ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center

Outside Chittenden County

Montshire Museum of Science

At the Montshire Museum of Science, they trick you into learning, and they’re not ashamed to admit it. They make you think you’re just having fun — sticky pads strapped to your hands and knees as you crawl up a sloped wall — when actually you’re learning about insects. They give you a “tongue gun” and invite you to launch it; whoops, you just learned about chameleons catching their prey. Turns out, when science is hands-on — and involves awesome contraptions such as “The Rill,” a 250-foot outdoor watercourse decked out with adjustable mini dams and sluices — it’s easy to learn.

SEVEN DAYS: What’s the coolest scientific factoid you’ve learned from a Montshire exhibit lately?

BOB RAISELIS, EXHIBITS DIRECTOR: Individual ants can live as long as three years. We have a leaf-cutter ant exhibit that is quite popular. The ants don’t actually eat the leaves we give them, but rather they cut them up and use them to grow fungus gardens that supply food for the colony.

— Megan James

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