My first-grader loves math and science. Considering I’m the only computer nerd on the entire eastern seaboard who didn’t excel at those particular subjects growing up (I was an English and History kind of student), the fact that my son checks out non-fiction after non-fiction book from his school library is a bit mystifying to me.
Me: “Why don’t you get one of those Arthur books? Nice little morality tales wrapped up in some light-hearted aardvark-based shenanigans!”
Him: “Naw. I’m going to get this book on lizards instead.”
Me: “Are you sure? That D.W. is quite the firecracker!”
Him: (Leaves the room shaking his head)
Who am I to rain on his preferred educational interest parade? So a few weeks back, on a school in-service day, I took the short drive to Harrisburg with my boys to the Harsco Science Center at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. The science center has three floors chock full of hands-on science activities and exhibits that were engaging for everyone. Considering we had a 3-year-old, a six-year-old, and a 35-year-old in tow, that’s saying something.
The first (top) floor of the museum has some neat interactive exhibits with general science principals on display, as well as KidsPlace, an area for kids 5 and under, that had my pre-schooler working on tubes in a water table and performing on a “right-sized” stage.
The second floor of the Center is focused on health and wellness as well as the science of sound and motion. While, at their age, the boys might not be taking home the finer points of the principles behind the Doppler effect, they certainly had fun pushing all the buttons and levers and seeing the results of their actions.
Highlights from the bottom floor, from the Forces of Nature exhibit, included the ability to actually touch a home-brewed tornado, destroying our carefully constructed Lincoln Log homes with a mini earthquake, and seeing the real-time weather unfold on the Science on a Sphere exhibit; a five foot animated 3-dimensional globe . The boys particularly enjoyed seeing the results of storm force winds on their Dad’s hair. Friendly tip, hats are of no use in the Hurricane Chamber.
For a day of fostering my son’s budding love of science, and just plain having fun, the Harsco Science Center at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts was just the ticket. I think even Arthur, or at the very least his friend the Brain, would agree.