First Time Visitor Q&A


Q: I've never been to Johnson City or the Science Mill before, where are you and how much time should I allow for my visit?

A: Johnson City is conveniently located on 290, an easy drive from Austin, San Antonio, and Hill Country locations! Need directions? Click here!

Once you're here, allow at least two hours to explore the Science Mill (though you could easily spend much more time experiencing all of our hands-on, minds-on exhibits!).

Q: Do you have food?

A: Lady Bird Lane Cafe is located on site, and the food is fantastic! Hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-2:30pm, and Sunday, Noon-2:30pm

Q: What time is the 3D movie?

A: Check here for times. Please note: times are subject to change, so confirm at the front desk when you arrive. 

Q: Can I see what kinds of exhibits you have before I visit?

A: You bet! Visit our website for a look at all our our incredible exhibits. Many of them are designed and fabricated on site, making for a completely unique experience!

Q: What if my child falls in love with the Science Mill when we visit, and wants to have their next birthday party at your museum?

A: We feel pretty confident that your kids will fall in love, and we would be honored to celebrate their birthdays! Here's the information about parties.

Q: I know it's still March, but I'm already thinking about summer plans. Do you have camps?

A: Yes, we do! Registration for summer camp is open now.

We also have a free Science Outside program that just started. There are still a few spaces left!

Q: Speaking of summer, I know a lot of people. Do you offer group rates?

We are booking summer group visits right now! Bring your scout troop, church group, neighbors, extended family, play group, or camp group (10 or more people qualifies for the group rate).

Make your own DIY home aquaponics kit!

Make your own DIY home aquaponics kit for less than $100!

Consuming locally grown food continues to soar in popularity, and the use of aquaponics to do so has also become popular. Benefits include using less land by growing food vertically, water conservation, the ability to grow food organically, fewer pests, and the potential of scalability. Aquaponics is a more economically and environmentally sustainable method of food production.


We’re pretty jazzed about aquaponics here at the Science Mill! So much so that we’ve recently opened a 1000-square-foot working aquaponics greenhouse exhibit where visitors can see how fish, plants and microbes work together to create healthy food.

What is aquaponics?

Most simply, aquaponics is the intersection of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water without soil). Fish eat fish food, their waste provides an organic food source for the plants, and plants filter the water.

The invisible component of this ecosystem are microbes or nitrifying bacteria. These bacteria convert ammonia from the fish waste first into nitrites, and then into nitrates. Nitrates are the form of nitrogen that plants can uptake and use to grow. By combining aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponics eliminates the drawbacks and takes advantage of the benefits of each system. 

You can do this at home!

Making your own home aquaponics kit is surprisingly simple. You just need the right components, most of which can easily be purchased at local hardware and pet stores. You can pull all of this together in just a few hours, and for under $100!

Check out the video below for easy to follow instructions. What will you grow? Be sure to share your progress with the Science Mill using #sciencemilldiyaquaponics and feel free to contact us at with any questions. Good luck and happy growing!


10 gallon aquarium $22.30
PVC Pipe (1-1/4” x 2’) $3.24
Clear Vinyl Tubing (5/16” inner diameter x 7/16” outer diameter x 10’) $8.29
Submersible water pump $8.99
Net Pots $12.99
Peat Pods $10.74
Grow Light $23.99
Fluval Foam Filter Block $6.65


Tools Needed

Chop saw or PVC cutter
Table or hand saw
Small drill bit
Step down bit or Forstner bit
Tape measure
Orbital sander or sand paper


Twinkliest Town Around

Our hometown of Johnson City is currently the twinkliest town in the Hill Country, and that makes it the perfect time to visit the Science Mill!


Video credit: Pedernales Electric Cooperative

Before you take in the wonder of Lights Spectacular and the PEC Holiday Lights (with more than a million lights between the two!) stop by the Mill and check out some of our brightest interactive exhibits!

Cellphone Disco

Use your cell phone to transform an entire silo into a dazzling light show! Several thousand lights illuminate when you use a mobile phone in the vicinity of the exhibit.


The 14-foot diameter light-sequenced Fractalarium, based on a model of Romanesco broccoli, is a state-of-the-art synthesis of geometry, nature, science, art and technology.

Game of Life

The surface of this interactive game is filled with ultrabright LED lights that respond to motion according to Conway’s Game of Life. See how you do!

Dig In

Our 3D topographic sandbox is always a favorite! Run your hands through real sand, forming mountains, rivers, lakes and dams in this interactive, augmented reality exhibit.

Silo of McKays

Explore the ways in which Artist McKay Otto experiments with light and sound vibrations to create a complex and beautiful exhibit that fills the entire 40-foot silo.


Wednesday through Saturday, 10am-4pm

Sunday, noon-4pm


Monday, December 24- CLOSED

Tuesday, December 25- CLOSED

Wednesday, December 26- 10am-5pm, Physics of Flight activities 11am-2:30pm

Thursday, December 27- 10am-5pm, Physics of Flight activities 11am-2:30pm

Friday, December 28- 10am-5pm, Physics of Flight activities 11am-2:30pm

Saturday, December 29- 10am-5pm

Sunday, December 30- Noon-5pm

Monday, December 31- 10am-4pm

Tuesday, January 1- CLOSED

Wednesday, January 2-Saturday, January 5- 10am-4pm

Sunday, January 6- noon-4pm

Science Store Staff Picks

On Sunday, November 25, 2018, the Science Mill is participating in Museum Store Sunday with over 1000 Museum Stores representing all fifty states, thirteen countries, and four continents.

Come be part of this worldwide event when you shop our Science Store for the largest selection of STEM toys and games in the Hill Country! On Sunday, November 25 only, all purchases over $40 are 25% off. Make a huge dent in that shopping list when you stock up on some brain-boosting fun for everyone on your list!

Looking for inspiration? Check out this list of recommendations from Science Mill staff members!


Want your loved one to pick out their own toy? Buy a Science Mill gift card! You can pick up one (or a few) on Museum Store Sunday, or you can order gift cards here.