Do you want to see an Ozobot following lines on paper? Make music with light? Get lost in a space gallery? Pretend to be a Radio Jockey, or say, a Disc Jockey?
At the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, you can do all of the above and more. It’s a place for the curious-minded, the scientist, the philosopher, and the wanderer.
Toddlers and younger kids dig the KidSpace area in the lobby, with its water/ball based activities. There’s blocks of Lego on a water-table. You can control the volume of water with the help of a tap, and by strategically placing the blocks, you can adjust the flow of the water. Dam building made fun, right?
I for one could have spent the entire afternoon in the Sight and Sound Section, which deals with the basics of robotics, among other things. Imagine controlling a basketball from a screen. Or having a tiny robot, Ozobot, the smallest of its kind, drive on lines drawn by you. Smart enough to sense colors and read commands, this miniature droid is a big draw. Pun intended.
If you are wondering what I meant when I talked about making music with light, look at the picture below. It’s a harp strung with sixteen laser beams instead of your run-of-the-mill, boring old strings. So when your fingers break a beam, the computer that’s connected to the beams, triggers a sound. You can even change the style of music with a push of a button.
We enjoyed a 3-D movie Journey into Space, where we saw rockets being launched, astronauts being trained, and many a space scene that would make a Star Wars fan’s heart fill with joy. The Space gallery had an interactive bit about our Solar System. When you have a kindergartner with you, one who knows all the names of the moons of Jupiter, that interaction is bound to be a hit. Then we saw a NASA spacesuit up close, tinkered with Google Earth, and played in a make-believe spaceship.
The Space Gallery would have been our favorite, if it was not for the space pods by the restrooms. We waited for what seemed like an eternity for people to give up their comfy pods. Nobody stirred. Ideally, a staff member should have been present there to make sure people took turns.
Anyway, there’s so much to do that it’s hard to list all of them. You can design a car (vary the weight and wheels) and test its speed. Learn how wind directions affect sailboats. Guide a ball in the air and through a hoop using wind energy. Dinosaurs are never a bad idea when it comes to kids and in the Planet Earth gallery, one can dig for fossils, and even get to know a Dilophosaurus up close, roar and all.
The cafeteria and gift shop was the usual. You could also bring your own lunch. Parking is ample. But we couldn’t see all of the exhibits in one trip. We left out the Sports Lab, River of Life, Rooftop Garden, and many more. Having become members for a year, we will get them next time.