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Jul 14, 5:24 PM EDT

Museum in Mississippi offers laughter, surprises


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AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
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AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
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AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
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AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
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AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
AP Photo
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
AP Photo
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
AP Photo
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
AP Photo
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
AP Photo
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Within a few steps of the Mississippi Children's Museum, there are squeals of laughter and excitement.

Inside the interactive, 40,000-square-foot facility, children are encouraged to read, learn about health and nutrition and the state's key industries.

One exhibit at the Jackson museum includes a Nissan Altima chassis that lets children closely explore the inner workings of the car, which is built in Mississippi. There are also hands-on exhibits for construction, timber management and oil exploration.

Children have a farmers market full of fruits and vegetables to teach them about healthy eating and they can play in the "gastro climber," exploring the digestive system from start to finish. The more adventurous can make a skeleton dance by moving joints as they learn about a healthy body.

The newest exhibit, the Literacy Garden, lets children try drawing or writing a story on a creativity wall. They can climb into a tree house, take shelter in a fairytale mushroom forest or play in dancing water stations.

But be forewarned. On a hot Mississippi summer day, there may be a temptation to go through the dancing waters first. That's better left for the end, or you may end up with a child leaving a trail of water throughout the museum.

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If You Go...

MISSISSIPPI CHILDREN'S MUSEUM: 2145 Highland Drive, Jackson, Mississippi, http://www.mississippichildrensmuseum.com/ or 877-793-5437. Admission, $10; free for 1-year-olds or younger. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sundays, 1 p.m.-6 p.m.

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