Another in our ongoing series: What We Did This Summer.
OK, so maybe we haven’t really been to the Boston Museum of Science 43 times this year, but sometimes when I’m waiting while my daughter digs in the midden for discarded shells and old arrowheads, flies the Apollo space capsule to the moon again, or watches the How a Fossil is Formed video for what must be the hundredth time, it sure can feel like it.
So where do you go when your preschooler has memorized the permanent dinosaur exhibit, categorized the complete contents of the midden heap, swarmed the Butterfly Garden, grown tired of the Apollo and Mercury space capsules, eked every last bit of joy out of the orbiting marbles in Mathematica, and despaired of the chaos in Science in the Park?
The Discovery Center
Tucked between the Planetarium and the Riverview Cafe on the first floor of the Museum’s Red Wing, from the outside the Discovery Center looks like a small and not very interesting cubbyhole.
Most people passing by only see a not-very-enticing bookshelf full of rocks, a few stuffed animals (stuffed in the caught-in-the-wild-and-preserved-through-taxidermy sense), and a line of empty strollers by the entrance.
We’ve walked by it hundreds of times without once being tempted to go in. In fact, we only went there at all because a docent who recognized my daughter from her many visits to Triceratops Cliff asked her if she’d like to touch a real dinosaur fossil, and when she said yes, led us there.
- A water table with a complete assortment of toy fish, boats, and nets for hours of happy water play
- A bee hive, complete with larvae, bee finger puppets, pollen pellets, and bee costumes to entertain your little honeybee
- A robin’s nest, for those who prefer to play at being a bird
- A staffed Science Experiment station with a rotating set of experiments to entice young chemists, physicists, and engineers
A large mystery animal skeleton that you and your child can assemble on the floor
- A wall full of Discovery boxes with fossils, bones, field tools, and other items designed to help you and your child explore a specific topic in-depth
- A variety of animals, both live and stuffed, scattered about to be touched and/or examined up close
- A Geology field station (that bookshelf full of rocks)
- A separate play / nap area for infants under a year old
- A small reading lounge
And that’s just the first floor. There’s more upstairs, if you have any energy left to visit it.
If I were running the Museum I would seriously consider changing the face the Discovery Center presents to the outside world. Those rocks don’t do the place justice. (Unless of course, the Museum needs to fool passers-by into thinking the Discovery Center is a very dull place indeed to keep the crowds inside it at manageable levels.)
BTW: I wish I could show you some pictures of this place, but sadly we were so busy at the Center that I simply forgot to break out the camera, which is why this post is peppered with photos of our usual haunts.
When to go
Immediately after a snow storm. You’ll have the Discovery Center–and its docents–to yourself while everyone is still shoveling out. If you must visit in summer or during school vacation week, either plan to arrive at the Museum right at 10 o’clock or after 3 to beat the crowds.
What to take with you
A child under the age of 8. You can’t get in to the Discovery Center without one.
So would we go again?
|Where||Museum of Science, Boston’s Discovery Center
|What||A section of the Museum where you will find an assortment of hands-on activities designed to please scientists age 0 – 8.|
|Address||1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114
|Museum of Science, Boston
|Flickr||Museum of Science, Boston’s photostream
|YouTube||Museum of Science, Boston
|Cost||Included with admission to Exhibit Halls. Admission to Exhibit Halls is free for members. Non-member Exhibit Hall prices: $22/adult, $20/seniors, $19/children ages 3-11.|
(Discovery Center only, hours for the rest of the Museum listed here.)