The city of Baltimore is full of family friendly attractions. A particularly popular destination is the Inner Harbor. My family likes any excuse to get in the car and drive. The beauty of Baltimore is that – it’s an easy drive from Virginia or DC. We picked the Maryland Science Center as our destination of choice. There was a science circus event taking place making the museum crowded so we decided to start on the third floor of the museum and work our way down. This ended up being a smart move as we descended, the interest started to dwindle with our six year old.
The Third Floor
Sherlock Holmes and the Clocktower Mystery is a new, temporary exhibit. Presented in eight chapters, view the crime scene, interview possible suspects, and record your clues. The settings were really neat and I felt like I was in Victorian London. At the end, you can see if you solved the murder by waiting to enter a timed entry door. Unfortunately, my child had little understanding or interest and so we didn’t get to solve the thriller. This exhibit would be suitable for middle school students and above.
On a completely different topic, the Follow the Blue Crab exhibit highlights Maryland’s favorite food! There is a giant mechanical crab, several tanks with blue crabs, and an amazing view of the Inner Harbor.
The Science Arcade exhibit features whisper dishes, optical illusions and an interactive Thermain machine which is pretty neat.
The secret Kids Room is more like a museum inside of the Maryland Science Center. It looks deceiving guarded by two employees, but babies to age eight will be amazed at what’s in store here. Shake hands with Cal Ripken, meet Murtle the Turtle, or play an invisible harp – seriously! Build a tower, let the good times roll, go fishing, and splash around in the water. The water play area is filled with boats, toys, and cannons galore. There are smocks, a hand dryer, seating area and an information station computer to learn more about the Kids Room including events at the Learning Lab. In the Deep Sea Cove my daughter rode a submarine hover (it looks like a decompressed treadmill) and squealed when she found Nemo. She spotted other fish through a periscope and steered the submarine away from the coral reef. Within the Kids Room is an area called Room to Grow. Designed for infants and young toddlers, the under the sea atmosphere has hues of blue, soft blocks, and a waterbed. There is also a tunnel for crawling, books, educational toys, a chair for nursing mothers, and child development resources. There is a family restroom here with regular and pint-sized potty and changing area.
The Second Floor
If you are a germaphobe, you probably want to skip the exhibit Your Body: The Inside Story. Put together a skeleton, measure your height on a giant scale, watch the aging process, test your balance, dial-a-germ, and be grossed out by seeing how food digests and exits your body. The most eye opening part of these areas was stepping into a chamber. The floor pounds while a video projects the heart muscles as they expand and contract. It makes you realize how important your heart is and made me want to change my lifestyle. Within the Body Link: Health Science Update Center is a Wet Lab. Designated for students in third grade and above, children learn about cells and test their DNA.
We loved Life Beyond Earth and the SpaceLink: Space News Update Center. Feel how much matter weighs on different planets, build a lunar rover, jump around in space, listen to stars, and play Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader science game.
I was excited to take my daughter to a planetarium for the first time. I expected the show to be amazing like at the Air and Space Museum, but we were sorely disappointed. All members of my family fell asleep through the 30 minute show.
The new, traveling exhibit, titled Wildlife Rescue, explains how people are saving wildlife from extinction. See how your weight compares to that of a giant panda, see how strong orangutans really are, examine the x-rays of injured wildlife, and help suture a turtle’s shell. My favorite part of this exhibit was flying with whooping cranes. I don’t want to spoil it by divulging the details, but it was an amazing experience.
The First Floor
Surprisingly, by time we got to the first floor, we were getting tired. If you want to see what a deadly tornado looks like check out the TerraLink exhibit. Dinosaur Discoveries showcases large replicas of prehistoric creatures and artifacts from excavations. Kids can pretend to be an archeologist donned in protective eyewear and brushes as they dig for dinosaur bones.
The bustling Newton’s Gallery is the busiest exhibit in the museum. There’s a musical contraption that resembles a pin ball machine, erupting clouds, and a giant tug of war game. If you like noise, this is the place for you.
Avoid Beaker’s Café unless you like overpriced, subpar food. The gift shop has a huge selection of everything relating to science and includes some hands-on activities highlighted in the museum exhibits.
Hours and Admission
The Maryland Science Center is open daily: weekdays 10am to 5pm, Saturdays 10am to 6pm and Sundays 11am to 5pm. Admission is $16.95/adults and $13.95/children. The planetarium show is included in the admission, but if you want to see an IMAX film it cost an additional $4.
Knowing how congested traffic is in Baltimore, we drove to Arrow Parking Garage, which is located on E. Lee Street, across from the Science Center. The museum gave us a voucher allowing us to pay $9 for the day, as opposed to $25.
- Little ones will enjoy Tiny Tinkerers held Thursday morning in June.
- Bubble Days on July 20 and 21, 2013.
- Head to the Observatory for Friday Night Stargazing or Sungazing Saturdays.
- Get the whole family involved in Gizmos Gadgets and Gears: A DIY Summer.
- Note: The museum will be closed on June 22, 2013 for the Solstice fundraiser.
Our family’s visit to the Maryland Science Center was well worth the admission price. We spent a whopping five hours here (nearly two hours was spent in the Kids Room). My child has already asked when we are going back.