To be totally honest, I do not have a single picture of this outing, because I inadvertently left my phone in the car. There are excellent pictures of the lab on their website and I would encourage any interested parent to check those out. The lab-like picture inserted here is from our subsequent visit to the Natural History Museum, which I plan to discuss in a later post.
The Children's Science Lab is divided into several rooms or exhibits, though the layout is very open. There are even windows in the dividers between the rooms making it very easy for moms like me to keep an eye on all their children as they explore the various exhibits.
Meg and Clare began in the Inspiration Hub. The experiment I found most interesting in this room was the robotic arm. A touchscreen allows kids (or parents) to instruct the robotic arm what to do. However, the instructions must be very precise and in the correct order. The touchscreens tell you when you need to refine your instructions and will give you hints as to what is incorrect, but the user must solve the problem. While this process could certainly be frustrating for some kids, it undoubtedly is excellent training for thinking scientifically. Moreover, the long process is made totally worthwhile when that robotic arm finally moves.
Anne spent most of her time in the Discovery Room, which is intended for kids under five. The room included giant foam block in so many shapes and forms, a child can build anything in their imagination. Anne loved these blocks. The room also included musical instruments, magnetic blocks and a very fun coral reef aquarium. All three girls spent quite a bit of time trying to spot Dori and Nemo in the aquarium.
Another favorite room of all three girls was the Tinker Room. On this day, one of the challenges in the room was to build a hover craft. There were a variety of materials the kids could use, such as coffee cup lids, pipe cleaners, paper clips, and the rounded plastic lids that are often used on sundaes. Once a child had built a hover craft, they placed it in an air tunnel to see if it would fly out or actually hover. Meg and Clare were consumed with this project. I have no idea how long they spent creating different models.
While in the Tinker Room, Anne wandered over to the "make your own kaleidoscope" table. The table provides supplies as well as a few different examples of kaleidoscopes, but there are not set directions. Children are supposed to experiment to see what they can create. As a three-year-old, Anne's creation was less a kaleidoscope and more of a crazy mish mash of tape and glossy paper. A man, who looked like the quintessential science teacher with a full beard and balding head, assured me that children were supposed to explore with the materials and it was fine for Anne to make whatever she wanted to make. She then took this freedom one step farther. She found one of the rounded sundae lids and had me punch two holes on the side. Using yarn, she turned the lid into a doctors mask--just like Doc McStuffins.
The final room was the Experiment Bar. Here kids can select experiments from a touchscreen and are aided by the staff in completing these experiments. Meg and Clare enjoyed an experiment in which they first hypothesized about the weight of various liquids. They then poured these liquids into a a large test tube to see which sunk to the bottom and which rose to the top. They could then compare their experiment to their original hypothesis. A second experiment they completed at the Experiment Bar required them to make play dough that they would then use to complete an electric circuit.
The girls were very disappointed when I told them it was time to head home. The Science Center Lab was a huge hit with them. We usually head to Fair Oaks Mall a couple of times a year for haircuts (I could do an entire post praising Cartoon Cuts at this mall for turning Anne's self-imposed haircut into an adorable style). I suspect a trip to the Science Center Lab will now be part of those trips.