Happy Tuesday! This week we’re checking out the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix. We have a membership, which my parents bought us earlier this year on Groupon. Thanks, mom and dad! We’ve been just a handful of times, but always have fun when we go.
Don’t let the fact that it’s downtown (“oh crap, I have to park downtown”) deter you from going. There’s a parking garage on 5th Street, just north of Jefferson, just a short walk from the museum through the lovely and historic Heritage Square. DO NOT forget to bring in your parking stub to have it validated; if there’s an event downtown when you’re there, your time in the garage will quickly become expensive.
The entrance to the museum takes you down a long and, if you’re a toddler, super fun ramp. At the bottom is the museum’s new cafe (it’s so-so) and gift shop, and the check-in desks. Pro-tip: if you’re a member, you get to skip the long line and check in at the smaller desk on the left.
One note before we start: this is written from the perspective of a mom of a toddler, so we skip a lot of the exhibits that are too old for my kiddo. So there’s lots more to do than I’m telling you about here. If you have older kids, they’ll love it, too!
Once in, we like to start downstairs, in what we call the construction room. Here you can build with giant foam blocks, or small wood blocks, and see if your creation can withstand the forces of an earthquake. There’s also a little play house. Ollie loved wandering in and out of the door and playing peek-a-boo with daddy through the windows. We don’t usually spend a ton of time in this room.
Next is a section that’s all about the human body, so it’s appropriately called All About Me. As we were walking in, a staff member was doing a demonstration, a demonstration that was being projected onto large TV screens hung above the demo table. No joke, they were dissecting an EYEBALL. On the big screens. Ew. We scooted past and checked out several of the exhibits in this section. Some of Ollie’s favorites are the bicycle that uses the energy you generate to push a ball up in the air (daddy had to hand-pedal the bike), the balance walkway, the stretching machine (babies are bendy, daddies are not) and the drums that play in time to your heartbeat. Things Ollie does NOT like: the stomach slide. Apparently a dark slide that makes farting and gastric noises is scary when you’re one. He also was startled, but then eventually liked, the nose ball toss. You toss balls into a nose and they are sneezed back out to you. Weird, right?
Next we head up stairs to the second floor. This involves climbing up stairs, which is of course fun. Here you walk by the Evans Family SkyCycle, which is just what it sounds like; a crazy bike dangling from ropes that crosses the chasm of the lobby below. No. Thanks.
A good room for bigger kids is also on this floor, the Get Charged Up exhibit. The only thing Ollie likes to do in this room is the Bernoulli’s Principle table. Air coming out of tubes holds colorful balls aloft in the air. Super fun, especially when you put your face in the air stream. Get your camera out. Best facial expressions ever! Seriously, look below for the picture of Ollie doing it.
After that, it’s upstairs again, to the Forces of Nature exhibit. As an earth sciences nerd, I LOVE this one. You can learn about weather, water and land. Ollie only lasts about halfway though the show in the Immersion Theater. During the show, you’re surrounded by TV screens that show you different weather and natural phenomenon from around the globe. Fire, monsoons, earthquakes, you get to experience them all by feeling wind, rain, heat and the ground shaking. Super cool.
Just like any other kid, Ollie also loves playing on the water table. It’s angled and loaded up with sand, and has a continuous flow of water. You move the sand around with tiny hands and sticks to build damns and direct the water in channels. Save this one for the end of your trip; your kid will get wet.
Another exhibit that should probably be left for last (or not done at all, like we chose because it was too damn hot) is the Water, Spheres and Gears, in a courtyard on the lower level. Looks like fun, but we didn’t check it out. Also, Ollie wasn’t tall enough to reach any of the tables on his own. Yeah, sometimes we’re no fun.
But the Science Center is totally fun! You should check it out!
If you think you would like to document your family’s trip to the Science Center, or to another of your favorite places, let’s talk about scheduling an Adventure Session.
Kid rating: Two tiny thumbs up. Like I said, there’s lots to do for toddlers, and even more for the older kids. If you have two kids, maybe try to go with a friend or both parents so you can divide and conquer. The things that will interest the older kids may not interest (or frighten) the younger ones.
Mom rating: This place will teach you a thing or two, too!
600 E. Washington St. Phoenix, AZ 85004
I’d recommend buying a pass for this one. Your membership pays for itself in just two visits. We have a family pass (bought on Groupon in the spring, keep an eye out for this one!) that admits four. Since Ollie is free, we can bring two other adults and a baby, or one adult and a kid over three. A great deal, in my opinion. General admission is $11.95 for kids aged 3-17, $16.95 for adults. A temporary exhibit, Grossology, is $5 for adults, $4 for kids for members, $6 for adults, $5 for kids for non-members. There’s also a planetarium and an IMAX theater. See pricing here.
10-5 daily, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas