Take a S.T.E.M Tour of Tri-Cities, Washington

Artist's rendering of a gravitational wave. Photo Courtesy of NSF LIGO, Sonoma State University, A Simonnet

(Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)

Whether or not you’re a fan of the hit show “The Big Bang Theory,” a visit to Tri-Cities might open a new universe for you. For decades, as a locus of scientific achievement owing to the projects at the Hanford Site, Tri-Cities has attracted both career and amateur scientists. After a visit to three Tri-Cities attractions, you might leave a whole lot smarter or a lot more confused.

First, visit the REACH Museum (visitthereach.org), for an overview of your surroundings. Exhibitions cover the area’s fascinating geologic, natural and human history; the Manhattan Project and the Cold War and the region’s critical role in both; and the region’s agriculture, irrigation and clean energy.

Next, consider scheduling a tour of the B Reactor National Historic Landmark at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (manhattanprojectbreactor.hanford.gov). Reservations are required for this on-site look at the world’s first large-scale nuclear reactor. Check the website for pre-tour information and to make a reservation.

Last, no STEM tour of Tri-Cities is complete without a visit to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). Did you know that a gravitational wave is a ripple in space and time? Neither did I. But at LIGO, you’ll learn all about it and seem like the smartest kid at the next cocktail party you attend. Plan your Tri-Cities trip to coincide with one of LIGO’s monthly public tour dates; find out more at ligo.caltech.edu/WA.

Find hotels, dining and more in Tri-Cities at visittri-cities.com.