Earlier this year, we spent a day at the Connecticut Science Center. Located in Hartford, it took us approximately two hours to drive there – a great spot for a day trip for Long Islanders with kids of kindergarten age and older. Our visit was on a weekday while school was in session, and other than a few visiting classes, it was relatively empty, which translated to no wait time for anything. The museum is set up on multiple floors, each housing one or two exhibits with a ton of interactive activities that both kids and adults will enjoy and learn from. Below are some of the highlights of our day and exhibits that we enjoyed the most.
Kidspace: Science At Play This is probably the exhibit where my kids wanted to spend the most time! It’s on the first floor near the entrance, so it was the first thing that we did. We eventually got both kids out of there so that we could see the rest of the exhibits. Kidspace is a large room filled with “I Spy” search & find activities as well as water play areas where kids can see how water affects the world that we live in. My kids had a blast playing with different floating blocks, fountains and water jets with varying water pressures. One fantastic part of this exhibit (for parents) is that the Science Center provides smocks for the kids to wear while playing, significantly decreasing the amount of water that winds up on their clothes! This exhibited noted that it is designed for kids between the ages of 3 and 6, and in our experience, both kids loved it, including my 8 year old, and could have played here for hours. If you visit the Science Center with young children who can’t quite participate in the other activities in this room, don’t miss the Reading Nook in the back corner – it is stocked with a number of books and is a great place for adults and kids to sit together and read. Here’s a short from the Kidspace exhibit-
Picture of Health Located on the upper floors of the Science Center, this exhibit gives kids an inside look of their body and how they are affected by the food they eat and activities they do. My kids absolutely loved “Esther Eats” – an exhibit where they were able to feed “Esther” pucks that each represent food and watch how she digests the food. It teaches about calories in foods (high vs. low) as well as what is nutritious vs. what is not. Kids can also make “Esther” exercise some of the calories out. My kids loved watching “Esther” get heavier and lighter and even my 4 year old made connections about which foods were good vs. which were bad.
Robots & Us This was one of our favorite exhibits in the Science Center. My kids could have spent all day at the puzzle challenge where they were able to do a puzzle against a robot to see who could complete it faster! My competitive 8 year old spent a good amount of time on this until he finally was able to finish before the robot! Further into the exhibit were displays of electronic toys with information about how they work, and my kids loved seeing their favorite toys like Zhu Zhu Pets showcased. In the back of the room, there was a display called the “Robot Café” with a robot sitting on a diner stool and room for kids to sit at the counter next to him and pretend to order a meal or a drink. At the other end of the counter, there was another robot/computer that “spoke” which my kids thought was really cool.
Upstairs, there was a great space for both kids and adults, with the centerpiece of the room being a palm tree made entirely of plastic utensils (forks, spoons, knives) and plastic cups. It actually took us a few minutes to realize what it was made of! Around the room there were tables with puzzles with different shapes that instructed users to make a “T” or an “H” or put different shapes into the form of a cube. They were difficult and took a lot of concentration, but we definitely enjoyed trying to put them together.
Overall, we had a wonderful visit to the Connecticut Science Center and we enjoyed the day. Opened in June 2009, the Connecticut Science Center truly focuses on both kids and parents and is practically brand new (read: very clean). If you are traveling there for the day, it’s in a great location easily accessible from both I-84 and I-91. They also house a 3D Digital movie theater, which we did not visit due to the timing of the shows. Family bathrooms and lockers are available, as well as a café with nutritious and good food (not fast food). Since Hartford is a city, your best bet is to park in the covered garage attached to the Science Center and parking rates are much more reasonable than NYC. If that lot is filled, parking is also available in the lot of the Convention Center, located directly across the street.