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extreme sports exhibit
Extreme Sports offers many hands-on experiences for families. Photo courtesy of Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Test Your Limits at Extreme Sports: Beyond Human Limits

Everything families need to know to have an extremely good time at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's newest exhibit.

You have a choice: Slackline, log, or bridge?

As you cross into Extreme Sports: Beyond Human Limits, the newest exhibit at Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS), you must choose which of these paths to take as you begin the journey into the brains and experiences of extreme athletes.

Extreme Sports, which opened Friday, September 13, is one of DMNS’ most interactive exhibits yet. The exhibit, running through April 12, 2020, takes a deep dive into extreme athletes’ minds and bodies, their motivation, preparation, and their expert use of equipment as they compete in risky sports. Guests will explore sports that take place in the air, on snow and ice, in water, on rocks, and on the ground.

extreme sports exhibit
Guests learn how wingsuits work to help athletes soar through the air. Photo courtesy Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Getting Started

Upon entering, six computer stations take guests through a 30-second quiz to evaluate their desire to try new experiences, willingness for adventure seeking, and susceptibility to boredom. At the end, each person receives a thrill-seeking score from one to 40. (Forty indicates the most thrill-seeking players.) Participants can compare scores to each athlete as they’re introduced in the exhibit.

Encounter Local Athletes

Extreme Sports comes to Denver from Science North, an interactive science museum in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. The Mile High City is only the second city to experience the exhibit’s many hands-on activities.

The original Science North presentation highlights extreme athletes all around the world. DMNS added the stories of 15 Colorado athletes to the exhibit. Maureen Beck, a champion paraclimber who resides in Boulder, and David Reyes, a professional skateboarder who grew up in Denver, are just a couple of the impressive athletes that families will learn about.

More Than Just Adrenaline

Dr. Garth Spellman, the museum’s curator of ornithology and an avid climber, helped put together the exhibit. His children—ages six, eight, and 12—are looking forward to the rock walls and competing with their dad on the ninja wall.

“I hope that families learn that extreme athletes aren’t adrenaline junkies,” says Spellman. “I want kids to learn more about extreme athletes’ motivation and neuroscience, that they train hard and know how to utilize very technical tools and equipment.”

Opportunities to Play

In between reading about extreme athletes, kids and parents get a physical and mental workout from the exhibit. Little museum-goers can play on kid-size climbing walls, test out what it’s like to sleep on a portable ledge hanging tent, and step into the three-walled immersion room. The room—not recommended for weak stomachs—shows a lifelike view of riding a mountain bike and whitewater kayaking.

extreme sports exhibit
Little tykes testing their parkour skills can see themselves on the TV display, if they’re quick enough. Photo courtesy of Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

At the end of the exhibit, little tykes can try parkour on a course that is best for kids under four feet tall. Adventurers above four feet can tackle the jungle gym course designed and supervised by American Ninja Warriors at Ninja Nation. Kids’ times are recorded and compared against those of some of the pro athletes from the exhibit. Parents are invited to try out the obstacle course, but, like kids, must wear durable shoes—no heels or flip-flops allowed. If parents would rather take a break, there are benches nearby.

Kiddos will come home from this exhibit with knowledge of the special skills it takes to be an extreme athlete—and worn out enough for nap time.

Need To Know: Extreme Sports: Beyond Human Limits runs September 13, 2019 to April 12, 2020. Included with general admission.

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