One perk of living in Columbus is having a wealth of options when it comes to entertaining your kids. Want to see some animals? Well, we’ve got the number one rated zoo in America! Want a good children’s science museum? Oh yeah, we’ve got the number one rated one of those, too!
The COSI (Center of Science & Industry) children’s science museum has been a part of Columbus for as long as I can remember. As a kid, our elementary school would take field trips to COSI, and I remembered wandering the dark hallways learning about the refraction of light or the makings of the human body or how rats could be trained to play basketball or what life was like a hundred years ago and how we’ve progressed. I still have my drawing of the space shuttle made by a robot in the early 80′s. (That robot is no longer around, sadly. I’m sure it’s no longer all that special for a robot to draw a picture when we have iPhones, but I thought he was pretty awesome.)
COSI has moved since I was a child, relocating further down Broad Street to perch on the edge of the Scioto River. It’s bigger now, with even more room to offer some pretty fantastic exhibits and classes. Cordy and Mira spent many of their toddler days in the Little Kidspace area, so I was delighted to be invited back with Mira last week to learn more about their early childhood classes.
We started off the morning in Little Kidspace for some free play time. If you’ve never been to COSI, Little Kidspace is an area designed just for the five and under crowd. Older kids aren’t allowed in to play (but they do have a holding area with some video games if an older kid wants to wait while their younger sibling plays) so there’s no chance of a big kid running over a little one or shoving them out of the way.
You also have to check in and check out with the attendant at the gate – you can’t leave without the same number of adults and kids, and no kids are allowed to leave the area by themselves. This is handy when the area is enormous and you can’t always be aware of where your child is at all times, especially with more than one. The Little Kidspace area even has its own bathrooms, nursing area and snack area, so there’s no reason to leave while the little ones are playing.
Mira, of course, quickly found her way to the water tables. I always groan at having her go there, knowing she’ll find a way to soak herself. But other parents should know that they do provide raincoats for the kids, and dryers are available for free, too, if you need a shirt or pants dried and have a spare set.
When it was time for our class, we met in the Little Kidspace classroom and joined the circle. There are a ton of classes and camps and programs for families year-round at COSI. After a welcome song, we read a book together and then were set free to explore the different science stations around us. There was a goop station (cornstarch and water goop), a place to create bubble art by blowing bubbles into dyed soapy water, a building area with bricks and rocks, a sensory area with dyed, cooked spaghetti, and a nature area with bugs and worms to examine up close.
Mira loved the rainbow colored spaghetti.
And the bubble art.
She looked at the worms through the magnifying glass, but wouldn’t hold any of the bugs. I also have no photos of this because I wasn’t about to get close enough to take one.
After playing for awhile, we met back in the circle for a goodbye song. We then had lunch and we were set free to explore the rest of COSI. There are so many cool areas to visit – along with an extreme screen theater showing 3D films on a rotating subject basis – that you can easily spend the entire day there.
One of my favorite areas is Progress. You step through the corridor and into a street made to look like 1898. You can play with an old cash register, see what the telegraph office looked like, step up into a buggy in the livery stables and imagine what it was like to ride behind a horse, and pretend to be an operator for a very basic telephone service before we all had data plans with our phones.
Then you walk through another corridor and see the same street, only now it’s 1962! Mira was amazed at how much had changed, while I marveled at how I remembered my grandmother’s TV looking just like the one in the appliance store and then taught Mira the basics of playing pinball in the diner.
Of course, telling you about COSI isn’t nearly as much fun as experiencing it firsthand, so I have four general admission passes to COSI and four passes for the Extreme Screen to give away to one lucky reader! Obviously this is more convenient for readers local to the area, but if you’re planning a family trip to Columbus at any point this year (hey, why not?), these passes are good through the end of the year.
To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below telling me what part of COSI you would most like to explore with your kids. That’s it, easy-peasy. One entry per person. I’ll accept entries until end of the day on Thursday, June 28, then select one winner at random. Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you’re the winner.
Full disclosure: Mira and I received a free admission. All opinions are my own, including the opinion to bring extra clothing if your kids want to play at the water tables. You’ve been warned.