I’m embarrassed to admit it, having two kids and living about 20 minutes away, but I hadn’t been to the Liberty Science Center until this past summer. I’ve been a fool. I went there as a total ignoramus, not knowing what exhibits were there, how much it cost or how much time to allot for the trip. But I learned. Oh, did I learn. And now I’m sharing all my acquired knowledge with you so you won’t have to be an ignoramus.
First, clear your schedule. You’re gonna need all day. Originally, I thought we’d go, stroll around for a few hours until the kids got bored and head home. Do not make this mistake. Your kids will never get bored. They may get tired and cranky, but they will not get bored. We were there for hours and still didn’t get to see everything. I was with my girlfriend and her crew who would have stayed until we saw every last, stinking exhibit, but the Science Center kicked us out. They had to. It was the only way to get rid off us. And, I didn’t even get to do the iMax theater. I’m definitely going back for that.
While the whole center has been thoroughly renovated and beautifully remodeled into a quite impressive, modern museum, I’ll give you the highlights. On the ground floor to your left as soon as you walk in is the Skyscraper: Achievement and Impact exhibit. Do it. The exhibit contains a steel beam literally bent in half from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. It may be a somber reminder but a necessary one, and it’s a moving memorial that transports you to the site on the day of the tragic event while remaining right here in our home state.
After that, it’s time to experience science for yourselves with some hands-on fun. Strap up and get ready for lift off. Well, hopefully not actual lift off, as you carefully step out onto the steal girder raised high above the exhibit floor and test your bravery just as construction crews around the globe do everyday in building the world’s cities. Don’t worry, though, you’re strapped into a harness to avoid any actually “lift offs.” Word to the wise: height, weight and clothing restrictions apply so check out the site here.
Then you can experience what it’s like to live through a hurricane in the Curtain Wall exhibit or what I like to call the hurricane chamber. My son loved that one. He might have stayed there all day. But others were waiting and there was more to do so we moved on. You have to sign up for a scheduled time on this exhibit and seating is limited so make sure you get on the list.
If you don’t want to wait or haven’t hurricane-proofed your hair, shoot upstairs to try your strength and dexterity on the rock wall. Let your kids scramble across this low rock wall and then jump back on the end the line again. Repeat as necessary until they collapse. If your kids are like mine and never tire, move on to the mini zoo of small creatures in the Eat or Be Eaten exhibit. You’ll find (or maybe you won’t – these critters are really good at camouflaging themselves) a Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula, black widow spiders, a Gila monster and poison dart frogs.
Then, take it to the top, the top floor, where the exhibit, Our Hudson Home, teaches all about this unique ecosystem integral to our state. Our Hudson Home actually overlooks our Hudson home with astounding views of the Hudson River, Liberty State Park, and the New York City skyline. When your kids start nagging you after about 2.5 seconds, turn away from the magnificent view and find the Harbor Tank where kids can get a “fish-eye” view of the natural and human-made conditions and the clambering turtles, darting fish and other aquatic animals that live there. You’ll also find a 20-foot long model of the Hudson River where kids can control “rainfall” upriver, create dams and levees, and learn how erosion and pollution controls affect the river.
Whatever you do, do not miss the Touch Tunnel on the Third Floor. I doubt your kids would let you. The pitch-black, crawl-through maze was a favorite among my crew the day we visited and has been the Science Center’s most popular exhibit among the short set for years. To all it’s visitors The Center issues this challenge: “Can you make it through using only your sense of touch?”
The Liberty Science Center really does have something for everyone and will keep even the littlest scientist among us occupied. My crew ranged in age from a 7 to 11 years old, and the Center offers activities for those even younger with the Touch Tank and story times and special exploration sessions throughout the day for kids ages 2 to 5. Right now the Center has a special Bob the Builder exhibit going on where little ones can build with tools, plant in Wendy’s garden and operate kid-safe machinery in Bob’s workshop. Come dressed as Bob and receive a dollar off admission.
If you care at all about your kids or their science education, you must go. Do it for them. Do it for you. Do it for me.
Look for a future post from me in the next week of all the fun stuff Liberty Science Center has line up for Halloween.