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Monday, August 25, 2014

Fabulously Free - Saint Louis Science Center

Saint Louis is home to many free and cheap attractions and we're all about making sure the tourists aren't the only visitors by making sure to have discounts for our residents.  This is a series that will last as long as I can find cool free stuff to do in the STL area.  Recommendations are welcome!

Today's post is about our fabulously free Science Center.  Here's a little history from their website:

The Academy of Science of Saint Louis was founded in 1856, as the first scientific organization west of the Mississippi River. The Academy founded the Museum of Science and Natural History in 1959 and moved to Clayton's Oak Knoll Park. When the Metropolitan Zoological Park & Museum District (ZMD) was formed in 1971, the Museum of Science and Natural History became a member of the ZMD, independent from the Academy, which continues to operate as a separate entity to this day.
copy right Ben_Tate http://www.panoramio.com/photo/63044525
In 1984, the museum acquired the James S. McDonnell Planetarium from the City of St. Louis. After a renovation, the building reopened in1985, as the Saint Louis Science Center. The current main building of the Science Center opened in 1991. On February 8, 1997, the Science Center added the EXPLORADOME, an air-supported building just west of the Oakland Avenue building, in order to provide additional space for large traveling exhibitions. In July 2010, the Science Center broke ground on the addition of a new exhibition hall. With 13,000 square feet of additional space, the new Boeing Hall features a rooftop terrace and provides 12,000 square feet of permanent public exhibit space –- a long term replacement for the air-supported EXPLORADOME. Boeing Hall opened to the public on October 28th, 2011, with the Star Trek Exhibition as its inaugural traveling exhibition. 
Our trip to the Science Center was a last minute idea. School had been canceled because of the Ferguson riots and protests, and we were trying to find an idea to kill time (about 90 minutes) before going and picking up daddy from an appointment. Our first inclination was to take advantage of a week day morning and check out the zoo, but it started to rain. Luckily for us the Science Center and the Zoo are both in Forest Park and the switch of destinations was easy.
Liam playing with his sunglasses.
If you park at the Planetarium, you get close parking for free, it's a quick easy trip back out to Forest Park and all it's amenities, and there are fun outside activities that we didn't do because of the rain.
Also, they have a cool Blue Angels jet!
Inside the planetarium it's completely spaced focused. For those kids who can't get enough of spaceships, astronauts, planet knowledge, it's the place to go. For my 3 year old, it was wander through, touch what can be touched, absorb 1/80 of what he sees and move on to the bridge to the main building. I think he enjoyed 2 specific things: 1 the lobby floor has a model of the solar system embedded in the marble.  We started at the sun and walked our way around the solar system, naming the planets and jumping on them. 2. Is the giant model of Mars right before the bridge to the main building.  We touched volcanoes, valleys, and mountains.

The bridge itself is full of activities and can take time to traverse.  There are cut-outs to watch the traffic zoom below, radar guns, and binoculars. We identified the shapes of the cutouts on floor and talked about the cars driving fast and slow, and the colors of the cars.
Liam learning how roller coasters work.
The rest of the trip was spent in the main building, where you can build, create, interact with a computers for many programs, and probably Liam's favorite was the animatronic dinosaurs and dig pit. (of course I didn't get a picture of that).

Leaving the Science Center.
We had a good trip and we didn't spend a cent.  You can pay to watch a planetarium show. You can check out the feature in the omnimax. You can visit a special exhibit. You could also become a member and get all kinds of free opportunities.

Where taking advantage of the FREE or spending a little or a lot along the way, the Science Center is great fun for the family!

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