Arizona Science Center Review

June 25th, 2009 1:12am

We have wanted to visit the Arizona Science Center for several years but have always had difficulty with the pricing. With 5 of us (and sometimes 6 if my husband can get off work!), paying for parking, admission, special exhibits, lunch and gas (we live in Mesa) it quickly becomes a very expensive adventure…especially if we want to add on any other activities like the planetarium or the imax movies. But after an hour of waiting in line, we were fortunate enough to get a “Culture Pass” through the Mesa Public Library and were very excited to be able to use it! (Word to the Wise: if you want a culture pass, be at the library an hour before they open and park yourself right in front of the door…the Mesa Public Library puts out 14 passes every morning from Tuesday through Friday and it’s first come, first serve)

Normally, I would have packed lunches for my kids but I read that food was not allowed¬† inside the museum but there was a cafe for lunch (I didn’t learn until after our visit that they allow food and drink as long as it’s not eaten within the museum – a fact I will remember for our next visit!). So we determined to eat at the cafe. But I was very surprised by the prices and was not quite prepared for it. With the cheapest sandwich being around $9.00 and the cheapest kids meal is around $6.00, it is definitely wise to brown bag it. They have a nice patio outside for us brown baggers.
Because of the pricing, we were hesitant to buy passes to the extra exhibits like the planetarium or the IMAX theater. But I assure you, although we were there from 10:30am to 5:00pm, we were not bored for even a minute! Here’s a run down of some of our favorite exhibits…
The Home Building Exhibit
My 6 year old really loved this exhbit because he is my probable engineer! He loved watching the video of the house being built in accelerated time. We’ve had a lot of development going on around us near our home and he is constantly asking me how it’s done…it was fun to be able to say “well, son, here’s how it’s done!”. :) My toddler really loved the little play area here and it was a really nice place to let her run around and explore without worrying too much about what she’s up to. She loved the oversized soft lego’s since legos are a very popular toy at my house but her brothers and sisters don’t always want to share!

The Lego Exhibit

Life sized dragon made completely out of legos!

Life sized dragon made completely out of legos!

Legos! Need we say more? My kids absolutely loved this one! I have two boys (ages 4 and 6) and they thought this was just amazing! They both came home inspired and ready to build their own “master” lego creations! My 8 year old daughter had a wonderful time play acting in the castle and trying on the dress up with her brothers. She also thought the craft activities were fun and encouraged her brothers to build crowns and shields with her! They still have

Kids can make their own crowns and shields at the Lego Exhibit

them and have been playing with them all weekend! Even my 1 year old had a great time on the little toddler slide…she played there the whole time her brothers and sister were building their lego creations!

Kids can make their own crowns and shields at the Lego Exhibit

The Nature Exhibit

A Science Center employee shares a demonstration on volcanoes

A Science Center employee shares a demonstration on volcanoes

My daughter especially loved this exhibit…she loved the simulation platform and talked about it all weekend! Very amazing stuff. They recreate a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, monsoon storm and volcanic eruptions…complete with the heat sensations, ground vibrations, wind and even rain!

My boys liked the water erosion activity and loved to change the path of the water by building the “sand traps”. The only issue we had here was a couple of older boys that were bullying the little kids. They went so far as to steal the plastic pieces they were using to move the sand right out of their hands and throwing them underneath the plastic covering so the kids couldn’t get at them (It makes me angry when parents are not watching their children…having older kids only makes them more obnoxious and should not be an excuse to let them roam unsupervised). The demonstrations on different kinds of volcanoes as well as the liquid nitrogen demo had my kids completely enthralled the whole time! My daughter brought her camera and proudly talks about her “volcano pictures”! I have to say, the nitrogen demo even had me amazed!

The 2nd Floor Exhibit
I think this was probably my kids favorite. They loved all the hands on activities there were to do here. It was really fun explaining to them why the fulcrum works as we battled it out in a massive tug-o-war!¬† Learning with them about all the different kinds of energy and how it works was fascinating for all of us. The boys loved trying out the bed of nails and decided they were pretty brave fellows! We really had fun exploring this area and luckily, my toddler was asleep for most of it so I got to play some too! ūüėČ Don’t overlook the boxes of brain teaser puzzles against the wall either…when I finally figured one out, my kids thought I was a pretty cool magician!

These were by no means the only exhibits we enjoyed (making the giant nose sneeze in the Life Exhibit was a favorite of my boys!) but these were definitely our favorites! We were all very impressed with the wonderful staff and how friendly, informative, and indulgent these staff members are towards the kids. They really helped to make it a special day.

Definitely worth attending, especially through the Library Culture Pass. It can be a little expensive if you’re not prepared. The parking garage for the museum will cost you $12 before validation and the special exhibits are priced per person, per exhibit. But there is definitely enough to keep everyone busy without the special exhibits if your on a budgetary diet!