Despite having lived most of their lives in St. Louis, my children had — up until this past weekend — never been to the Saint Louis Science Center. It’s a major mom fail, I know, ranking right up there with forgetting to pack the Gushers in last Friday’s lunchbox as promised. I may never hear the end of that one.
Honestly, I’m not sure how I’ve managed to overlook the Science Center for all these years, since I grew up in St. Louis, took many field trips there as a child, and am always on the lookout for local, family-friendly destinations that allow me to feel like I’m doing my motherly duty by providing “educational” and “stimulating” experiences for my kids.
(Translation: I’m looking for any place that gets us all out of the house for a few hours so I don’t have to sit around listening to arguments over whether to watch Power Rangers or Good Luck, Charlie.)
And it turns out that the Saint Louis Science Center has just about everything I’m looking for. It is educational and stimulating (major mom points for me, right?), and more importantly, there is no Netflix connection to be found. After finally spending a day there this past weekend, I’ve determined that it is a pretty cool place to hang out as a family. Here’s why:
1. Seriously Good Coffee
There aren’t a lot of places in St. Louis where you can entertain your children for hours on end and simultaneously indulge in a Double Espresso or White Chocolate Mocha. And when I’m up and out of the house and trying to convince small people to behave in public before 10 a.m., there is nothing better than discovering that a gourmet cup of Kaldi’s coffee is just a few bucks away from being mine.
2. The OMNIMAX Theatre
Stadium seating and a gigantic dome-shaped projection screen make the OMNIMAX special, but it’s the films you see there that make the experience truly one of a kind. Even my 4 year-old – who typically loses interest in any movie that lacks cartoon characters or “bad guys” – was mesmerized by the baby elephants and orangutans dancing their way across the screen in Born to be Wild.
For about 45 minutes, I got to sit back, enjoy my coffee in peace, and watch a fascinating film about two amazing women who have made rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned animals their life’s work. It was pure bliss.
3. Limited Engagement Exhibits
Personally, I found Wildlife Rescue – the current exhibit at the Science Center for a limited time – to be a bit boring. But that’s the adult perspective, which we all know doesn’t necessarily matter in the grand scheme of family life.
Both of my kids were thoroughly entertained by it, and spent over an hour putting on “shells” and crawling around like turtles, discovering how devastating oil spills can be to wildlife, and taking turn after turn “feeding” endangered baby condor puppets.
4. An Opportunity to Bust Stereotypes
Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of science, which is probably the real reason why we haven’t been to the Science Center before now. Literature, film, history, world culture ... those are the subjects I love, and tend to introduce my children to. Science isn’t my thing, so why would I voluntarily spend a day in a place that’s like one giant episode of Myth Busters and How It’s Made all rolled into one?
Because I happen to be raising an 8-year-old daughter, that’s why. And I’m fully aware that – by proclaiming my disdain for anything science-related – I’m perpetuating a stereotype that I absolutely do not want to see become her reality.
At 8, she’s still at that age where she thinks science is “cool.” Sure, a few trips to the Science Center probably won’t turn her into the next Madame Curie, but hopefully they will at least encourage her to enjoy science a little more than I do.
Plus, every time we go, I can get a really good cup of coffee.
By Alyssa Chirco, SmartMama blogger for SmartParenting
To find out more about what the Saint Louis Science Center has to offer, including the Discovery Room, Planetarium shows and lots of special events, go to www.slsc.org
To save $2 off admission to the Wildlife Rescue exhibit, click here
Be sure to check our Things to Do section for dailly events happening at the Saint Louis Science Center and other great St. Louis family attractions.
Alyssa Chirco is a freelance writer, mother and margarita lover, not necessarily in that order. In addition to writing for STL Parent, she is Contributing Editor at Parenting Squad, and covers parenting, health and lifestyle topics for publications across the country. She recently moved from the suburbs of St. Louis to a small town in rural Jefferson County, where she is learning to survive with no Target or Starbucks in sight. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaChirco
Explore the St. Louis Zoo after dark at Boo at the Zoo. Bring your little ghouls and goblins to this non-scary celebration designed just for kids. Though this is not a trick-or-treating experience, costumes are encouraged, and each child 12 and under will receive a treat bag when they leave.
Engage your young scientist in science-related learning at the Saint Louis Science Center's Preschool Science Series. Through interactive stories and hands-on exploration, children learn about science, as well as language, problem-solving and social skills.