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Gateway Science Museum Exhibit Takes Visitors on a Water Drop’s Extreme Journey

Two museum visitors interact with a new museum exhibit
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Julia labate-Lee (center) explores a new exhibit, called “Water’s Extreme Journey” at the Gateway Science Museum (GSCI) on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 in Chico, Calif. Visitors embark on an exciting and important quest for clean water. They follow the journey of a water drop and explore first-hand the science behind the water cycle. Through a interactive maze, visitors realize how daily decisions can immediately impact the watershed in their own backyard. (Jason Halley/University Photographer/Chico State)

The journey of a single drop of water can be daunting. Falling from the sky, it could traverse down mountains and through rivers—all the while avoiding pollutants and human impact—before it joins the ocean or reaches our bodies.

Water’s Extreme Journey,” the newest exhibit at the Gateway Science Museum, explores this idea with a hands-on, interactive maze that brings to life water quality issues that affect people and the environment. The exhibit is open now and runs through Saturday, April 29.

Gateway Director Adrienne McGraw said with water on everyone’s mind right now—with the state’s recent storms and ongoing drought—people want to make sense of what is happening.

“By delving into the story of ‘Water’s Extreme Journey,’ Gateway visitors will learn more about how the water cycle works, while asking critical questions about the choices we make in our everyday lives,” McGraw said. “This interactive exhibit is informative and fun, giving everyone something to learn and explore.”

While investigating winding pathways, visitors are challenged to navigate through “non-point source pollutants” originating from agriculture, development, litter and homes. They will confront questions like, “Will the farm they pass have harmful pesticides? Did someone pour leftover paint down the drain?”

Blending art and science with action, visitors can learn how to make cleaner choices and discover the rewards of a healthy ocean, illuminating human impacts great and small while teaching how to contribute to healthy, safe water in their community and beyond.

Also continuing at Gateway is its Fossils Lab, where expert paleontologists and fossil scientists-in-training from Chico State’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences prepare fossils from the field. Visitors can have a first-hand look at the museum’s Scientists in Residence at work Fridays from noon to 3 p.m.

Additionally, the Gateway Gardens provide a glimpse of the diverse and distinct eco-regions of Northern California, and visitors entering the museum will pass by a pair of beautiful murals created by Chico State art students in 2019 and 2021.

The Gateway Science Museum is open to the public Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and located at 625 Esplanade. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children and students, and free for Chico State students and museum members. For more information, call 530-898-5130 or visit

To consider giving to Gateway Science Museum, please visit its giving page

Those who require accommodation at the Gateway Science Museum or who have questions about accessibility may contact the Accessibility Resource Center at 530-898-5959.