The success of a science museum can often be traced to whether it can offer educational and entertaining exhibits to children of all ages. It’s within this context of age appropriateness that I planned a collaborative review of the Louisville Science Center between my family and the family of fellow skeptic parenting bloggers, Rob and Laurie.
I have two young pre-literate daughters. Rob and Laurie have a son and daughter, both of whom are literate grade schoolers. The museum itself is divided between the first floor, an enclosed play area for the younger end of the age spectrum, and the upper-floors, better suited for older kids. With this in mind, Rob will be reviewing the upper floors, and I will be reviewing the first floor.
The first thing that you notice when you enter the KidZone is that the exhibit has limited space. Nearly the width of a large townhouse, the lack of square feet would seem to be a significant hindrance. And yet, the play areas are so compact and well organized that the cramped space can easily be forgiven.
There are plenty of wooden vehicles to play in, including a bus, an ambulance, an airplane, and a rocket. Unlike some museum play areas, these vehicles are freshly painted, open and accessible, and have a simple design.
A doctor’s office provides suitable imaginary play, complete with x-rays and medical equipment, but the dress-up nook around the corner is sadly lacking an adequate selection of costumes. Toward the front of the KidZone are the pre-requisite slides and tunnels (with an airplane theme); the lack of space benefits the parents here because it’s easy to keep an eye on the children, but older kids might quickly grow bored.
On the other end of KidZone is a water area with pipes and connectors that can be fitted onto various spouts. The first time I went to the museum, this area was neatly organized because it was an off-day. The second time, on the other hand, none of the pipes were put away, which made the activity a bit more chaotic than it should be.
The construction area with poly-foam blocks was really popular with Sasha. There’s not a lot of extraneous information, buttons, or gadgets to distract from the pure fun of pulling a bucket of debris and watching it spill out when it reaches the top. Simple and cute.
While there’s some room for improvement, I’d say that the KidZone offers an efficiently compact play area where pre-schoolers can spend endless amounts of time in a safe enclosed environment.
Just outside the KidZone, in the lower lobby, there’s a simple attraction that really captures the imagination. It’s a pully attached to a soapy hula hoop that forms a massive bubble when you stand within it. It’s a great way to end your trip to the Louisville Science Center!
Stay tuned for Rob’s follow up in Part 2 – to be continued…