KC Fun - Science City

Friday, August 12, 2016

We are big fans of Union Station. We make a monthly trip to visit the train exhibit, and during the holidays, we make a point to head down to the Grand Hall to ride the Holiday Train. And this summer, we introduced McKinley to Theater for Young America, a theater specifically for children. His first show was one based on the Junie B. Jones series, books that he discovered earlier in the spring. He loved it so much that we attended the two remaining shows before the season concluded. I have big plans for him to attend more shows in the fall.

But what we hadn't experienced before now was Science City. My husband and I went years ago, probably around 2001, and had a wonderful time as adults. And I've been wanting to take McKinley but wasn't sure if he was ready. Turns out, based on the feedback my husband received from several of his friends, he was more the ready. I reached out to Union Station to see if we could collaborate and was thrilled when they accepted. We loaded up last Sunday, with my parents in tow, and headed down for a thrilling journey through Science City.

I was overwhelmed and amazed. And McKinley, well he was in heaven. So many things to explore, touch, feel, move, and play. He loved playing in the black sand which was really composed of magnets. It was so cool to watch him gather the sand and then throw it against metal and watch the shapes it would make. So cool! The motion wall was awesome! McKinley loved walking, running, skipping, and twirling across the big screen and seeing all the "little McKinley's" that shadowed him. I would say we spent a good 10 minutes there. Joel and my mom got in on the action as well. Fun for everyone!

Ever watched a ball float on air? This air table was awesome! Simply placing a ball over the airway, and watching how high or low it hovered based on it's shape, was so cool. And, if you angled two small balls just right, they bounced together over the air. Obviously, larger balls don't float as high, but what I love is that McKinley has no idea that he's learning how density and size creates cause and effect. 

Check out this cool tunnel! It's made of wood and is the coolest design I've ever seen. McKinley loved trying to slide through. A really neat structure for play.

Ever pumped air into a bottle that's housed in a wooden car to see what happens when you hit release? Well, if you fill the bottle full of air, the car shoots off the valve and races down the track! McKinley loved this experiment. He turned and turned the wheel to fill that bottle with as much air as he possibly could and loved watching it shoot off it's mark. Same with the bottle air rocket experiment. Anything that was super hands-on was his kind of thing!

 I would have to say that the musical space was on of my favorites, especially the piano pit. Okay, it's not really a piano, but it has little censors that pick up movement and play certain notes from piano keys. You simply wave your hands over the little rectangles and create music based on your own movement. How cool is that?? There was metal fencing that clanged loudly with every tap and a xylophone inspired rope piece that played subtle music when you drummed. And don't miss the floor piano that looks like a slip resistant rug. If you step on the black keys, you play piano with your feet!

 Greetings, Earthlings. Oh wait, those aren't aliens. That's just me and McKinley aboard the rocket ship slide. A metal sculpture, with a lookout point, this slippery slide takes you for a ride.

So there was this other cool air experiment with paper. There was a diagram on the wall of how to make this paper cup object using a paper cup, scraps of paper, and tape. And, once you made said object, you placed it inside a wind tunnel. Guess what? My paper cup creation looked nothing like the one on the wall and failed the air tunnel experiment. But as Joel and McKinley discovered, you can just ball up scraps of paper, place them in the tunnel, watch them bounce around until they make their exit at the top. I don't think I'm cut out for science..... 

Speaking of wind, you can create your own wind in the Science of Energy exhibit. Turning small wheels, and other devices, you can generate wind which activates small turbines. This made such an impact on McKinley that he has started creating his own turbines when he plays farm at home. Again, I love when he's learning but hasn't a clue he is! Learning is fun, kiddo. Remember that!!

We had a pretty turbulent landing in this helicopter, but we made it safely on land. Thank goodness McKinley had the controls in the back because I was unable to do anything from my vantage point in the front. I swear he's going to be a pilot when he grows up. Or a farmer. Either one works. This massive helicopter was a major hit with McKinley. He's still talking about it and said it was by far his most favorite thing we saw all day.

For this dinosaur loving five year old, this animitron dinosaur was the coolest. He was mesmerized by how big it was and watched it move with awe. We didn't get to spend any time in the dino dig, just due to the fact of it's popularity, so we will definitely head there first on our next trip. From what I could tell, kids were digging up bones from several different species and I know McKinley would be in heaven with that kind of archeological dig!

 Lastly, we visited the maze park. This large floor maze was a little tricky, and for a kid that's never worked a maze, it didn't even phase him. He stepped onto the maze and made his way into the center without a single assist from us. This child amazes....see what I did there....but seriously, he amazes me on a daily basis.

We spent roughly two and a half hours at Science City and barely scratched the surface. Things I want to do on our next visit, and there will be multiple visits in our future, are the nature center, Spark! Lab, the Kinderlab, and I personally want to spend some time in the Mr. E. Hotel. The best thing about this space is that there is truly something for everyone of any age. The learning process of being able to do things on your own is invaluable. I appreciate it as a mother who's constantly trying to teach her child through hands on experiences without making it feel like learning. If you make learning fun, then a child is actually going to want to do the work. Why? Because it doesn't feel like work. And that's what Science City did in those two amazing plus hours. 

I highly recommend Science City to everyone! So much to do and see. So many exhibits to experience and learn from. And there is truly something for all ages. My 43 year old husband was like a kid at play, but he said he would love to go back just so he could read what each exhibit had to offer. I just loved watching McKinley. He jumped up and down, ran to each attraction with wonder, worked his little muscles in all of the interactive exhibits, and slept like a log that night. Science City is a work out for the mind and body!


Photos courtesy of Richard Lawson Photography.

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