The latest cruise from Mercury Chicago's Skyline Cruiseline is not only an enjoyable experience for youngsters, but it provides an educational platform as well.
"This is the first year for our "Science is Fun" cruise," said Kevin Derrig, tour guide and deck hand for Mercury Cruiseline. Derrig also steps into the role of Professor Mercury during the science-inspired excursions.
The cruise, which is only open to groups, including school groups, campers and other organizations, sails at 10 a.m. Mondays through Wednesdays through Oct. 7. Derrig and Mercury captain Jason Garvett are the co-creators of the cruise which meets the standards of the Chicago Public School System, Illinois Learning and NextGen Science Standards.
"The cruise gets them out of the classroom and gives them a fun boat ride and also allows them to have a hands-on science opportunity," Derrig said.
According to Professor Mercury, youngsters take part in one of five different experiments and results of those experiments are posted online so they can keep track of them throughout the season.
"We want them to look and see if there are any consistencies and what others have found," he said.
The experiments young scientists engage in feature topics such as physics, environment, engineering, mechanics and biology.
One of the experiments involves trying to find out how much power it takes to raise and lower the Trunnion Bascule bridges of Chicago, which operate similar to a seesaw and have balance considerations. Another experiment investigates what makes the boat float.
While the 90-minute cruise travels the Chicago River and makes the science experiments a priority, Derrig said he also points out some of the attractions and historical sites along the way.
Derrig said the idea for the Science is Fun cruise was sparked in January.
"The feedback has been extremely positive," he said, adding it's well received by different age groups, including teens.
"High school kids are excited to do the experiments," he said. "They're happy to take the cruise and are happy to help with the experiments." Derrig said they'd like to plan another season of the Science is Fun excursions.
FYI: Mercury's Science is Fun cruise runs 10 a.m. Mondays through Wednesdays through Oct. 7. Cruise departs from Mercury's Riverside Gardens at the southeast corner and lower level of Michigan Avenue bridge and Wacker Drive. For prices, reservations, and more information, contact Dan Maguire at (312) 332-1368.