Friday, August 31, 2012

Connecticut Science Center

 For kids of all ages

Making Science Fun
250 Columbus Blvd.

The view from the rooftop garden

Right in the heart of downtown Hartford, overlooking the Connecticut River sits a tower of glass housing hands on fun, education and adventure.  I have been a few times now and I have to say, I have mixed reviews.  From the hands on educational part of things they got it going on.  Tons of stuff for kids of all ages to touch and learn about, the exhibits are well maintained and there is plenty different things so the lines are never too long to try thing out.  Starting from the top of the building, they have a small but pretty rooftop garden.  Level 6 is all about nature, and I like the fact that they have live animals and talk about nature in our area of CT including our vast rivers.  A great 4-D movie tells you all about global warming that doesn’t make you feel bad about being a consumer.  This is also where WFSB (Ch. 3 Harford) lets you do your own weather reporting right from the green screen.  FUN!!  You can video yourself and have your video e-mailed home to you!  You can also make magazine covers and a few other fun things and review them later when you get home.

Level 5 lets you smash a dummy head with a mallet, okay you get to see how helmets protect your head at impact, but it is cool to smash the head anyways.  They have a great exhibit about the local company Stanley Tools in the invention area.  Not to be missed is the exploring space area, with the cool loungers that let you watch short films about the universe.

This time I went to see their special exhibit on Level 4 – Dinosaurs invaded Hartford this summer and it was pretty awesome!  Starting with the one that was outside across the street, the animatronic dino was amazing.  Converting their traveling exhibit gallery into a prehistoric home for over a dozen dinos was pretty cool, well painted backdrops with skeletons, stationary and moving dinosaurs for you to view.  I think it was a very well done exhibit! 

Don’t miss the music area for the Forces in Motion room on this level also, you get to race boats, make paper flyers, shoot hoops and race magnetic trains, a great hands on area.

So here is where my mixed review comes in, there is nothing on level 2 or 3 that is open to the public, on top of that the entire center of the building is wide open, all seems like a strange use of space to me.  I have been too many science centers around the country and I think that there is so much more they could do if they used the space better.  One of the highlights though is the glass front wall of the building, from every floor you get a floor to ceiling wall of glass where you can enjoy watching the river, the weather and the traffic go by.

Steve and Keith watching stuff
about the universe...

So let’s talk price, regular admission is $19 for adults, $14 for kids.  Plus parking can run from $10 to $19, depending on how long you stay.  That is an expensive day for a family.  I got tickets as a gift (thanks Steve!!) so that was helpful, but it is a pricey day.

Add on if you hit the gift shop or the café AND… they have 3D movies that are an extra charge as well.  $7/$6, for a 40 minute movie.  Though we did not go to one this time, they are usually a great show, well made movie with comfy seats, but again – for a family of four you could be looking at a ticket price of over $100 for the day.  Now there are membership packages that will help with the pricing and worth checking out if you want to go a few times a year.

This is great place to go, and a must to check out at some point if you have kids who like science.

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