Saturday, July 3, 2010

New York Hall of Science

The New York Hall of Science is New York City’s only hands-on science and technology museum. It is also New York City’s only museum apparently run by giggly and earnest-but-clueless packs of teenaged volunteers, which gave it a sort of groovy, laidback, woo-hoo-we’re-on-summer-vacation vibe.

Established in 1964 as part of the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, the Hall of Science has undergone several major renovations over the years and now boasts more than 400 interactive exhibits in its 35,000 square feet of indoor space, as well as a 60,000 Outdoor Science Playground.

Our first stop of the day was the Rocket Park Mini-Golf Course. That each hole of the nine-hole miniature golf course focused on a different key concept of science such as timing, gravity, and velocity was completely lost on Charlie and Vivi. Considering, though, that they were under the suggested minimum age guidelines (six and over) and hadn’t ever set foot on a miniature golf course before, they seemed perfectly content simply whacking their golf balls around to an appreciative audience of teenaged interns.

Next, we headed to the Science Playground where Charlie and Vivi could, theoretically, explore the scientific principles of motion, balance, sound, and sight, as well as sun, wind, and water, through over a dozen fun, interactive exhibits like slides, seesaws, speaking tubes, a giant spider web, and sand pits. I also like to just, um, call that “playing at the playground.”

**Please note that it does cost extra to enjoy the Science Playground and that you can only use it in 45-minute increments before a teenager with a megaphone gives you the five-minute warning (but it's still well worth it--and enough incentive to sign up for a membership).

At the height of the afternoon heat, we escaped to the cool Sports Challenge area, where Charlie and Vivi put science in motion by riding a surfboard, pitching a fastball, climbing a rock wall, and driving a race car.

New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street (@ 46th Avenue), Flushing, Queens, New York 11368; (718) 699-0005;; Summer Hours (June 28th to August 31st): Monday to Friday: 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 AM to 6:00; General admission (does not include Rocket Park Mini-Golf or Science Playground): $11 for adults; $8 for children 2-17.