Friday, September 11, 2009

A Day at the Museum

This summer, we had the great experience of visiting The Connecticut Science Center. Housed in a beautiful new building in the busy city of Hartford, Connecticut, this place is amazing. We have a pretty terrific science museum and a children's museum here in Boston, but when I read a review in the paper about this place in Hartford, I figured it was worth the 1.5 hour drive. And I was right. (I love it when I'm right.)

The museum, designed by world-renowned architect, Cesar Pelli, sits on the beautiful Connecticut River. Although it is crazy busy outside, once inside the comfortable walls, it feels as though you are suspended above a calm and peaceful turn of the water. Lots of windows to look out - even climb into to get a better view.

Everything about the place was airy and cool. Being a very hot day in August, we welcomed the cooler temperatures indoors. There was a whole exhibit on how they built the museum taking into account green engineering and geothermal energy for cooling.

The exhibits were incredible. Usually, my kids can breeze through a place, pretty much casing the joint for the 'fun-ness' factor. Well... I can tell you that we had to drag them out of there after 5 hours! And only because we were starving, and had a long drive ahead of us. We could have stayed longer, much longer.

Here, my husband is using bursts of air to move a beach ball. The game involved getting the ball through a chute - somewhat trickier than he thought!

Our eldest had pretty good luck. Turns out you needed the smaller ball, using less air momentum, and a whole lot of patience, in order to make it through.

Interactive exhibits where kids actually want to participate with an adult tops my list of fantastic summer finds!

My husband received a tutorial on speed-skiing, video-game style from our youngest. Although he typically does not enjoy video games, he kept trying this out, again and again.

Making music is one of our passions, and this museum did not let us down. Our eldest found the electronic jam room, and tuned up with several other kids.

You can listen to some of what they created here:

Our youngest is the mover and shaker of the family, as you can see here with the jumping exhibit:

And here, our youngest and my husband duel it out mind-blowing style. See the little, tiny ball in the glass tube? And see the headbands on their heads? With alpha waves, they are each moving the ball back and forth. He who gets the ball to the opposite end of the tube first, is the most relaxed. No pressure, folks...

And this is what the graph looks like after the competition. You may have guessed that you want the waves to be down low with few peaks. Looks like Player 2 got it this time!

This exhibit was pretty fun for our youngest. he's such a rock-'em, smash-'em kinda guy that he took to this immediately. The whole point of it was 'why do we need helmets'? You choose a helmet, put it on the 'dummy head' and then pull back the huge mallet and let it go.

The mallet then hits the head simulating a car crash or some other type of head trauma:

I'm pretty sure the point of the exhibit was totally lost on my son. He just enjoyed smashing the head over and over.

Here, you see both my boys actually checking something out together...! I thought they had outgrown playing in the water and sand, but what-do-you-know? Put it out there, and they will get their hands in it!

We had an incredible time. At lunch we traipsed down to the cafe for a meal full of organic and local produce/meats. It was a bit pricey, but when the food is that well-prepared, I don't mind paying a little more.

If anyone ventures out to Connecticut, make a beeline for the Connecticut Science Center. If it can bring my family together for a full day of fun, it must be totally amazing!


goldenbird said...

Looks like a fun day. The science center sounds like a sanctuary with the windows and being on the river and the calm peaceful feeling inside.

It reminds me of the Exploratorium in San Francisco-- I used to love that place as a kid.

Michelle said...

Looks like you all had a wonderful time!! That museum has been on our list since we got an invitation to it's opening from the Lego club. Was there some Lego awesomeness there? My boys are rather obsessed with those little toys that love to leave their indents on the bottom of my feet ;-)

Anonymous said...

very cool! We have family there and if we ever go back, we'll try and get there.

Anonymous said...

very cool! We have family there and if we ever go back, we'll try and get there.

Dogwood said...

Fun stuff! Wow, so many interesting things to investigate. Hopefully I can get there some time soon. The views out the windows are so perfect. Have a good week...