Last Thursday my son and I took a trip to the Orlando Science Center. The traffic was heavy due to construction, and it took us over an hour to get there from our current RV park. Fortunately, the long drive was well worthwhile.
The Orlando Science Center is a member of the ASTC reciprocal program which meant we paid nothing to get in. We did however, have to pay a $5 parking fee, and because school just let out here in Orlando the garage was packed. This resulted in us taking one of the very last parking spaces at the very top of the structure.
Once inside, the crowd levels of the museum were not bad at all. This was odd considering the parking situation, but fine with us because we had a lot of exploring to do.
The museum is four stories tall and quite large. However, it does not contain anywhere near as many exhibits as it could. That said, what they do have is definitely engaging and well kept and we managed to fill our afternoon quite well. Additioanlly, it looked as though they were adding a couple of new exhibits, which will fill out some of that empty space.
A Visit to KidsTown
We started in the new KidsTown area on the second floor of the museum. This is an absolutely heavenly playspace for kids and offers plenty of seating for tired adults to rest their feet.
The first room you come to when entering KidsTown is the orange grove room. It features orange trees on which pretend oranges “grow”. The oranges can then be picked, placed in boxes, and put in a delivery truc or taken to the mini farmer’s market that is set up in the same room. There are also a few other places to put the oranges after picking. Most of these involved simple machines of some sort, and all of them send the orange balls up vaccum tubes and back onto the pretend trees to be picked again.
We loved this room for a variety of reasons. First, the option to take part in the group project of picking, packing, and delivering the oranges provides an awesome opportunity to practice teamwork. Second, the pretend play aspect is perfect for helping kids exercise their imaginations. Finally, we enjoy the vaccum tubing and the simple machines used to get the balls into the tubing. This set up presented the children with a number of ways to experiement with simple machines.
The next room we came to was less interesting, but could entertain a child for a few minutes. It was basically an empty space with colored lights shining on the walls. Thsi invited kids to play in the lights, creating shadows and experiementing with light in various ways.
A huge, green climbing structure was next up in KidsTown. It also offered some opportunities to play with vaccum tubes. Otherwise, it was a pretty standard, if a bit larger than average, playground.
My son did play on the climbing structure for a few minutes. However, the MagnaTiles stored on the floor of this room soon caught his eye and he quickly switched over to building mode. This was great as it gave him an opportunity to experiement with shapes and exercise his creative muscles by making fun works of art with the tiles.
There was a third room in KidTown. We didn’t get that far because my littl scientist was eager to see other things, but it looked like fun. In the glimpse that I caught, it looked like the room contained a water table and a little stage for the kids to put on mini productions of their own.
NatureWorks Was Wonderful
Next on our agenda was a trip downstairs to the NatureWorks exhibit. This was one of our favorite parts of the entire museum, and we spent a good amount of time exploring the area. There was a small collection of live animals including some little alligators. We had fun viewing these creatures, and even learned a few cool facts while we were at it.
Kinetic Zone is Great for Young Builders
After seeing the animals, we went up to the third floor to see Kinetic Zone. Here we did quite a bit of building with Tinker Toys and PVC Pipes. We did a couple of brain bender puzzles, and then worked on building a Lego boat.
Amature Paleontologists Will Love DinoDigs
When we grew tired of building, we left and headed upstairs to the DinoDigs room. Dinosaurs are one of my son’s favorite things, so as you can imagine, he was pretty excited about this room. His favorite part of this exhibit was definitely the fossil dig area where he got to dig for fossils on his own. However, we also really enjoyed looking at all of the fossils on display and learning about the prehistoric creatures the bones once belonged to.
Our Planet is Full of Fun Facts
Our final stop was the Our Planet exhibit. Here we learned about storms and earthquakes as well as other natural events that shape our earth. This video from our Instagram account is of one of the activities in this exhibit which showed visitors how water flows based on the shape of the earth as well as how water helps create that shape.
By the time we left the Orlando Science Center we were exhausted. We had a wonderful visit and would return in a heartbeat. This is a stop I would recommend to every roadschooler who happens to be in the Orlando area!
Have you visited Orlando Science Center before? We would love to hear about your experience! Share your thoughts in the comments below.