As if we needed another reason to visit the Yards Park, the Living Classrooms Foundation has given us a good one: Science + You, a fun and engaging free exhibit that gives children the opportunity to be a “scientist for a day.” Located in the Foundry Lofts, just steps from the riverfront recreational space, the exhibit opens to the public today and will welcome curious visitors through most of the summer.
Sasha and I had a chance to get a sneak peek yesterday along with school groups who were invited to test it out. From the moment we walked in, she was intrigued. Designed for ages 3-8, Science + You is set up like a child-size lab with stations featuring hands-on activities and equipment that emulate processes scientists use in a real lab.
Cooking up healthy soup in the test kitchen
They start by pretending to wash their hands, then roam freely among areas where they can do some healthy cooking, use a glove box to handle equipment, study objects under a microscope, and much more. And along the way, the displays explore scientific concepts and educate about things like germs, disease, and health.
Getting a really good look in the magnifying station
Hosted by Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, Science + You was created collaboratively by Kohl Children’s Museum in Chicago and scientists from the global health care company Abbott. It was designed to spark an interest in science among kids through fun, interactive displays and hands-on experiments.
During our visit, I had a chance to chat with Sheridan Turner, CEO and President of Kohl Children’s Museum. She explained one of the aims of the exhibit is to bring more focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education, as research has shown that introducing kids to science at an early age is critical to inspiring future interest in science.
Fighting off antibodies via ball game
All that glitters... the mixing displays are pleasantly sparkly
Watching Sasha and the other kids dart excitedly from station to station, it was evident that the design is successful. The displays are presented with elements that attract and engage kids — the concept of fighting antibodies is demonstrated through a ball game, glitter swirls and sparkles in the mixing station, puzzle pieces help depict a healthy body. Of course, some explanation from an adult should accompany most of it, but the important part, the initial interest, is sparked by the exhibit alone.
Little scientists at work in the lab
Oh, did I mention that there are little lab coats for kids to wear, too? Unfortunately, they were all in use by the time we arrived — it seemed that all of the kids wanted to be a “scientist for a day.”
Science + You will be on exhibit May 9 – August 5 at the Foundry Lofts – 301 Tingey Street SE. Public hours are 12:30-4pm Tuesday – Friday, and 10am – 4pm Saturday & Sunday. Admission is free.
Crossing a high footbridge at Living Classrooms in Glen Echo Park
Who would ever guess that near-60-degree nice days in DC would be a regular occurrence in the middle of winter? This is exactly why this weekend round-up is steeped with recommendations that take place indoors, despite at least one of those glorious days on the way. If you want to get out and seize it — because who knows when Snowmageddon II could hit? — scroll right down to the end of the list for a link to a wealth of outdoor ideas. Otherwise, read on to explore all of your options for family fun, from the Auto Show and the Monster Jam, to Chinese Lunar New Year and birthday celebrations, to a puppet festival and puppet shows, and even more possibilities in between. Happy Weekend!
Auto Focus – The 2012 Washington Auto Show begins today and runs through next weekend. If there’s any “grown-up” event that is equally fun for all ages, this is it. And I know from firsthand experience; our family went to the show last year and practically had to drag the kids out when it was finally time to go. It’s like a Truck Touch, but with autombiles — more than 700 of them! — on display for guests to check out. And especially for kids will be Playland, an area filled with games, toys, videos, and cuddly mascots, including some from the PBS show SuperWhy! This all takes place at the Washington Convention Center. Tickets are $12/adults, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under. Hours are 12-10pm Friday, 10am-10pm Saturday, and 10am-7pm Sunday. See this post for even more details.
Year of the Dragon – Usher in the lunar year 4017 on Sunday at the Chinese New Year Parade. Festivities kick off at 6th & I Streets NW at 2pm and will wind through the streets of Chinatown celebrating Chinese culture in a brilliant procession that includes traditional dance, music, and, of course, the iconic dragons. The parade is expected to last about two and a half hours, and spectating is free. View the route here to stake out your curbside spot.
Build-a-Saurus at Lowe’s – It’s another Build and Learn Clinic at the home improvement store on Saturday. Lowe’s hosts free bimonthly workshops for kids, and during this session guests can build a wooden dino, then choose the stickers to make it a cartoon or a realistic dinosaur. The store will provide all the materials, along with goggles, an apron, and other goodies to take home. We haven’t yet been, but a friend went to the last one and gave it a great review. Go here to find your local Lowe’s and register for the workshop.
Monster Jam – If you hear a rumble echoing around the city this weekend, chances are it’s coming from the Verizon Center where 12-foot-tall, 10-thousand-pound monster trucks will be wowing crowds with big stunts, power races, and wheelie contests (can you imagine one of those things popping a wheelie?!). There are shows Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. Tickets are $60/VIP seats, $25/Gold Circle seats, and Mid-Level are $20/adults, $10/kids 2-12, kids under 2 are free. There is also a pit party on Saturday from 11am – 12:30pm, where guests can meet drivers, check out cars up close, and more. According to the website, pit passes are generally available for free at Advance Auto Parts retailers while supplies last. They are also available for purchase at the Verizon Center the day of the show when accompanied by the appropriate event ticket.
Show Time– Sit back, relax, and enjoy the shows at local theaters. The Snowy Day is at Adventure Theatre, Peter and the Wolf and Tiny Tots are at The Puppet Co., and Mouse on the Move is at Imagination Stage. You can find details on all of these productions in this post about winter entertainment.
Living Classrooms – Whether you’re at Glen Echo Park to catch a show or just looking for a little nature fun for the kids, Living Classrooms, located just off the path that leads from the park to the parking lot is worth checking out. We’ve passed by numerous times, but never actually visited until last weekend, after we found out the show we were supposed to see was canceled. What a neat discovery — the small building contained a giant ant hill that kids cold crawl through, a high foot bridge to cross and a tree to slide down, various critters and creatures observe, and more. One of the highlights was a an animal encounter with a rosy boa and a chance to pet the snake. There’s also an art room that’s open to the outdoors — a great place to draw inspiration from nature when weather permits. It’s all open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 3pm both days. Admission is $5/person, free for children under 2.
Happy Birthday, Renwick! – Celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Renwick Gallery. Enjoy live music, hands-on activities, a docent led touch table, craft activities, mini scavenger hunts through the galleries, and, of course, cake! This all takes place on Saturday from 11am – 2pm. Admission is free.
Happy 25th, IKEA Woodbridge – Everyone’s favorite DIY furniture and everything else store is celebrating 25 years at the Northern Virginia location with goodies for customers — four days of savings, giveaways, design workshops, and family fun! Be the first 100 in line on Saturday and Sunday and win an IKEA gift card worth anywhere from $5-$250. Also among the festivities: live entertainment, including a string quartet, pianist, and opera singer from the Opera Performance Group from the college of William and Mary; fun events for the kids, including face painting each day from 12-2pm; and on Sunday, Radio Disney will be there from 1-3pm with non-stop music, games and giveaways.
See Us Fly: The Wright Brothers – On Saturday at 11:30am and 1pm, the National Air & Space Museum presents a puppet performance about Orville and Wilbur Wright and their journey into the history books. This is the story of two very determined brothers who beat the odds to create the world’s first self-propelled flying machine. Rainbow Puppet Productions will perform two 40-minute performances. Recommended for ages 4-8. Admission is free.
The Artist in You – The National Children Museum’s Launch Zone welcomes kids to discover their inner-artists — the only supply needed is their creativity! They can learn about artists such as Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, and Alexander Calder and have the chance to create their own artistic masterpieces using marbles, construction paper, and more interesting textiles. Drop in on Saturday from 11am – 4pm. Admission is free.
Puppet Festival – The McClean Community Center’s Alden Theatre is hosting a day dedicated to puppetry on Saturday. Guests can enjoy two puppet shows starting at 1:30pm, then make their own puppets at puppet creation stations. Admission is $10, children 2 and under are free. Purchase tickets through theAlden Theatre website.
Stories in Art – Henri Matisse is the featured artist once again at the National Gallry of Art’s drop in program this Sunday. Kids ages 4-7 can learn about him through storytelling, discussion, and an art project. Sessions are at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am, and will continue until all spaces are filled. Admission is free. Read a KFDC review of the Stories in Art program here.
Outward Bound – Near sixty-degree days in the middle of winter seem to be the new normal in Washington. And you will not hear a single complaint about it from me. Get out and enjoy the unseasonably awesome weather while you can; Snowmageddon 2012 could be right around the corner. For ideas on where to seize the sunny days, see this post about the best places in the DC area to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors with the kids.