Maryland Science Center
601 Light St., 410/685-2370,
HOURS: Tues.–Thurs. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; longer summer hours, including Mon.
COST: $14.50 adult, $10 child, $13.50 senior
At the beginning of the 21st century, the Maryland Science Center underwent a welcome increase both in size and scope, and the additions make this once somewhat dry attraction now a must-see, especially if you’re traveling with kids. A new Dinosaur Mysteries exhibit showcases huge re-creations of the prehistoric beasts, but also lets kids dig through sand for fossils as the simulated roar of Tyrannosaurus rex reverberates through the room.
Newton’s Alley features lots of hands-on (and feet-on) exhibits that kids can touch, punch, and climb, from a laser harp to climbing and balance rigs. There’s a planetarium that shows off the mysteries of the universe. On clear Friday nights, head for the observatory, which opens free of charge and also sets up smaller telescopes for peeks up at the heavens.
Older kids with a taste for experiments should head to Wetlab, where they’ll pull on some goggles and lab coats and perform science projects involving glop, goop, and gunk. And of course there’s the requisite IMAX theater, showing both nature- and science-themed films, as well as Hollywood fare at night.
The entire center is awash in hands-on computer stations and touchable, squeezable exploration stations for visitors to sample and learn about biology, chemistry, and space science (and even try on a mini-NASA flight suit). There’s a popular demonstration stage where experts explain everything from nanotechnology to black holes.
The Science Center is one of those attractions that kids go bonkers over, running from exhibit to exhibit, playing and touching everything they can, while adults spend their time gently wrangling the kids through the hallways. All the popular national touring exhibits about science (the kind that feature human bodies or artifacts from shipwrecks) will stop here, usually requiring an additional fee. And once you’re done, at the museum’s entrance, you can rent a Segway for a quick, refreshing zip around the Inner Harbor.
© Geoff Brown from Moon Baltimore, 1st Edition