The New York Hall of Science is dubbed an “interactive” science center. What that means is that NYSCI, located close to the Mets’ home field in Queens, has fabulous exhibits that completely encourage hands-on, wholehearted exploration. They range from the very small–magnified microbes in its Hidden Kingdoms exhibit–to the very tall, like the Gemini Titan II and the Mercury-Atlas D rockets from America’s early space program.
“Our new exhibit for the spring is Math Midway, and it is really interactive,” says Preeti Gupta, who runs NYSCI’s Education and Family Programs department. “Also, if people come during the Presidents’ week break, there are lots of extras to do, including a Family Science Concert.” NYSCI special Winter Break events include films, puppet shows and even making those cylinders and spheres from the classroom more tangible by turning them into a source of fashion inspiration—a geometry necklace or chain.
Can’t get there this week? NYSCI puts that boundless source in children to good use with its permanent exhibitions like Preschool Place. Besides the delight of the Ball Drop, little hands can use simple machines like cranks and pedals, build with a crane and assemble a train. When assembly is no longer required, the youngest can chill out with books, musical instruments or fossils.
Dare to take the Sports Challenge, an exhibition that’s a legal venue to race, climb the walls (on an eight-foot rock wall), prepare pitching arms for Verona’s upcoming season, and even test balance getting a leg up on a surfboard—all in the name of physics. Both “Star Wars” and StarLab fans can have a blast exploring The Search for Life Beyond Earth exhibition. Space cadets will delight in the Mars Rover, the non-rodent Alvin and find What is Alive.
Discover what it takes to have enough right stuff to be an astronaut in the Living In Space demonstration. Be sure to get the Demo Schedule at the Admissions Desk to uncover other science wonders and check if the Evening Sky Constellation Show is available in the Astronomy Discovery Lab. Before blasting off back to Verona, dance through the new rainbow colors of kids’ shadows in Seeing the Light. And if the end of family fun day ushers in parental thoughts of splitting an atom, resist and go down to the Marvelous Molecules exhibition, where it’s completely acceptable—and safe—to pull apart molecules. The plastic models can start simple and can be built as complex as any student wishes, and then be joyfully or therapeutically dismantled.
All of the exhibits at NYSCI are staffed by high school and college volunteers, dubbed “Explainers” by the museum. And they do a fabulous job of explaining how each exhibit works and the scientific principles behind them.
Tickets to NYSCI usually cost $8 for children and $11 for adults. But if you can visit on Fridays, the museum is free from 2 to 5 p.m. from September through June. Parking is an additional $10 ($14 when the Mets play at home, since NYSCI’s lot serves as an overflow parking facility). NYSCI’s upcoming calendar of events is here. Do, however, get your bearings before leaving, as the way out of NYSCI’s lot and back to New Jersey can be tricky.