VIAGGI – FAMILY TRAVEL
Liberty Science Center (LSC) just might be the definition of cool. As soon as you walk into the place, you will see the Hoberman Sphere, which is made up of what has been described as scissor-like connectors that expand and contract dozens of times per day and hangs overhead heralding in visitors. It mesmerizes the kids, especially the little ones. It sets the stage for the awesomeness you will be experiencing all day long.
Once you get inside, you might not know where to start. There’s just so much to explore. This interactive museum/laboratory in Jersey City, N.J. (near the boats that take you to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island) aims to educate guests about science and technology. My mother, sister-in-law, and I were visiting with my nearly 5-year-old son, 4-year-old nephew, and 6-year-old niece. Our main purpose was to see the traveling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle exhibit that will be leaving LSC Sept. 5, 2016. Beyond that, we weren’t sure what to expect. Our kids are young, and some of the concepts hyped in the literature seemed over their head. But we had nothing to worry about. There was more than enough age-appropriate activities for them to enjoy. Here are the highlights:
- Dino Dig – This exhibit was a close second to TMNT as the kids’ favorite part of the day. With the view of NYC in the background (see photo above), the kids get down in the sand and search for dinosaur bones. While they are finding these fossils, the nerdy chic staffers came around and explained exactly what they were seeing and told them about the dinos that once roamed the Earth. (Anyone who read about Field Station Dinosaurs on this site knows our affinity for dinosaurs.) As I understand it, this is open until Labor Day. I don’t think you’d want to be out there in the cold winter. Still, it was the perfect summer activity, and our kids are still talking about it. And they saved the little book that told them about the dino bones they were finding as a keepsake (but they also refer to it often).
- I Explore – An area designed for preschoolers to stretch their minds. Here, my son put together a little wooden car and drove it down rails to see if it worked. Then, he changed the wheels or body to make it faster or slower. Here, all three kids put together a 3-D dinosaur puzzle and created different scenes with magnetic shapes and pegs in a board that lit up. They had the most fun putting colorful plastic balls in a tube and cranking them out into other tubes and ultimately back into the bin for those who were next in line. The littlest of children were busy playing sensory games, including running their fingers through rice and shoveling it into buckets as if it was sand.
- Honey Bees – I was amazed at this exhibit, which really is unobtrusive and easily overlooked. But the working hive builds a honeycomb right in front of you. There is a tube outside the building that allows the bees to come in and out and ushers them into the hive, which is behind thick glass (so the bees can’t reach or sting you). You really get the meaning of worker bees. You see them on the job. We missed it, but there are opportunities to watch beekeepers working with the bees, by the way.
- Our Hudson Home – Granted, much of the history was lost on the preschoolers in our gang. But this exhibit gave us a chance to show them the wonders of the river that we see everyday. The fish, like that big guy in the photo above, and plant life on display was a treat. The chance to pull sand out of the “river” was the cherry on top. Just when we thought the exhibit couldn’t get any better, one of the senior staffers had the three kids conduct an experiment with water bottles to show how strong water pressure can be. Any chance to play scientist is welcome in our house.
- Eat and Be Eaten – In this area, you will spy all different little creatures, including small monkeys, giant cockroaches, land turtles, and a lizard or two. We happened to spot Pokemon there, too. The kids can’t get enough of looking at animals, so this was a winner.
- Physical Activities – There was a wall for the kids to climb, a giant soccer net to kick a ball into, and a bar for hanging as long as you could (my niece was awesome at this one). And there was all sorts of other stuff that we didn’t get a chance to do. Perhaps, the most impressive (not to mention scariest for us) was the Infinity Climber. It was like a series of randomly placed steps, connected to one another, and covered in a heavy-duty net. The whole thing hung in the air almost as if it was magic. While we observed a staffer creating a giant bubble wall, we got a chance to see the kids climbing. My mother, who has a severe fear of heights, could not even look, so we didn’t bother letting our kids do it. But it looked like a lot of fun if you had the courage.
These exhibits are a fraction of what you’ll find, and there are all sorts of special events and activities, so check the Website before your visit. You might also like the IMAX and RealD 3-D theaters or the laser shows. Admission costs $21.75 for adults, $17.75 for children ages 2 to 12, and $18.75 for seniors (age 62 and over). The shows and special exhibits cost extra. You can see prices on the Website. The extras weren’t necessary for us considering the ages of the kids. None of them were going to sit through an IMAX show. I guarantee it.