Space Age Appropriate
by Alyssa Grossman, 03/27/2012 [Updated 05/06/2015]
Photo: Julienne Schaer
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New York Hall of Science
This Queens institution has space exploration down to a science—literally. For children of all ages, this is an engaging journey; young ones will be entertained with mindbending games and exhibitions, and older kids will learn more about topics they may have studied and see the fascinating ways that scientific principles can be transformed into interactive learning experiences. Start inside the institution with Search for Life Beyond Earth, which breaks down this interplanetary quest for scientists-in-training. As it turns out, Mars isn't the only place with potential for extraterrestrial life; there's Jupiter's moon Europa, Saturn's moon Titan and even places beyond our solar system. Experiment with a shifting-ice-sheet puzzle and take a close look at microbes strong enough to survive the extreme environment found on Mars. Before leaving, be sure to check out a recent addition: a Mars rover built by two North Carolina sisters, ages 13 and 11.
After exploring the museum, head outside to Rocket Park to find spacecraft displayed at the 1964–65 New York World's Fair, just 10 years into the space age. Before heading home, play a game of Rocket Park Mini Golf (open daily, March through November). In this physics-based take on the activity, families move through nine holes that demonstrate navigating past space junk, finding the correct planetary alignment for perfect putting conditions and achieving zero gravity.