North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

In 1607, settlers landed on the shores of America and called it home, creating the first permanent English settlement — Jamestown. Little did the colonists know that less than half of them would survive the year in this new wilderness. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences offers you a chance to test your "survival" skills and to peruse pottery, beads and other Jamestown artifacts when it hosts "American Adventure," June 18 to September 7, 2016. Show up on opening day for special survival skills programming, including fire making and colonial tool demonstrations, inside the exhibition.

Developed by Minotaur Mazes, "American Adventure" is a highly interactive maze that takes visitors on an immersive, educational role-playing adventure that asks people to conquer one great challenge: survive the year as one of the original colonists. Sound easy? Think again. Only 38 of the 104 colonists survived. But don't worry, you're not tied to their destiny. You can beat the odds and determine your fate. It all depends on the choices you make ... and a bit of luck.

Blending historical accuracy and the complexities of real life-and-death decisions, "American Adventure" delivers a truly unique and effective learning experience. Visitors choose a Life Chart based on one of the original Jamestown colonists. Each chart features an easy-to-use abacus with beads representing "life points." These beads track results of the choices visitors make when encountering challenges. The goal for the visitor, sensibly enough, is to maintain enough life points to stay alive.

For example, you can test your agility on the 12-foot horizontal Rocky Falls Climbing Wall while searching for gold, try to identify native plants and decide whether or not they are a viable food source, or trade with other colonists to increase your chances of getting through the winter. Success is not measured only in terms of surviving the maze. Even if you don't make it through 1607 alive, the learning accomplished makes "American Adventure" an unforgettable educational experience. (And you can always start over.)

Special to the Raleigh showing of "American Adventure" is a display of artifacts uncovered at James Fort in Jamestown. The complexities of surviving colonial life become all the more real with artifacts that help explain the relationship between colonists and native Powhatan Indians. Pottery, beads and metal objects recovered from the cellar of James Fort help illustrate a beneficial trading relationship, while animal and armor artifacts from the Starving Time, when the fort was under siege by the Powhatan, shed light on the hostilities that sometimes arose between the two groups. In addition, visitors can learn about the high-tech tools and techniques used by archeologists who continue to dig for Colonial American artifacts.

Primarily designed for families with children, "American Adventure" won a Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award, presented annually to members of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). "American Adventure" was described by the awards committee this way: "basic game theory, history, free will, and the complexities of life and death decisions are joined to create a memorable and effective learning experience for role-playing visitors of all ages."

Tickets are free for Museum Members or $5 per person for the general public (ages 3 and up) and are available on-site at the Museum Box Office (919-707-9950) or online at Exhibition hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Saturday and noon–5 p.m. Sunday (last entry at 4 p.m.).

Minotaur Mazes is a Seattle-based, worldwide traveling exhibitions company specializing in complete, interactive exhibition experiences within a maze setting. Mazes are engaging both mentally and physically, and a tactile experience helps visitors young and old retain ideas long after they have left the exhibit. Minotaur is committed to crafting quality, creative exhibitions that introduce ideas of sustainability and personal responsibility.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (11 W. Jones St. and 121 W. Jones St.) in downtown Raleigh is an active research institution that engages visitors of every age and stage of learning in the wonders of science and the natural world, drawing them into the intriguing fields of study that are critical to the future of North Carolina. Hours: Mon.- Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sun., noon-5 p.m. Visit the Museum online at Emlyn Koster, PhD, Museum Director; Susan Kluttz, Secretary, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; Pat McCrory, Governor.

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development. NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit


  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • 11 West Jones Street
  • Raleigh, NC 27601


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