Thanks to the Orlando Science Center for providing complimentary admission tickets. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
As we planned our fall family vacation to Orlando this year, it was really important to me (and to my attendance log!) that a few of the days be educational in nature. I read a little bit about the Orlando Science Center online and it sounded like a place that had a fair amount of hands on activities for kids, so I figured we could spend a half a day there before we ran out of things to do.
I was SO wrong, and in the best possible way. The Orlando Science Center is, without question, the very best children-focused science center I have ever been to, and I’ve been to quite a few! We arrived when the facility opened, and left shortly before it closed and had a completely amazing day, despite not doing even remotely close to all of the things available here (if I lived in the area I’d get an annual pass in a heartbeat!).
One of the first exhibits you will encounter at the center is a citrus farm. This entire room is set up to mimic the path Florida oranges take, from tree to farmer’s market stand or grocery store, and both of my girls spent a great deal of time here picking and processing oranges. We had great conversations about farming and how much work goes into bringing these oranges to our local grocery store, and how it all starts in this general area of the country.
The museum also has an entire exhibit space dedicated to the movement of water. This was another area where my girls spent a lot of time. I noticed that they were both very focused on various experiments they conducted with creating dams and with figuring out how to get water to move from one section of the exhibit to another. I marveled and the clever design of this area, because it succeeded in getting kids to roll up their sleeves and to become tinkerers, problem solvers and inventors within minutes of arriving.
I also noticed that throughout the museum (which is several stories high!) volunteers and employees were stationed to work with kids one-on-one or in small groups, conducting science experiments on the spot, and encouraging a spirit of inquisitiveness and hypothesis testing.
No matter which exhibit we checked out, we would quickly find something that was completely irresistible to kids (like this area where kids could get balls to levitate in the air! Darah spent half an hour here figuring out how to get more and more balls floating!). I just can’t emphasize enough what an incredible job the Orlando Science Center does of drawing kids in and getting them to ask, “How does this work?!”
The top floor was the area we visited last, and aside from the citrus farm, I think it was definitely our favorite area. If I had to do it all over again I might have started at the top floor, actually (I think a lot of people naturally begin at the bottom and work their way up, so it could be a great way to beat the crowds a bit if you come soon after it opens). One section had breathtaking dinosaurs and other ancient creatures on display (as well as an archaeology pit for little diggers), and the other side was focused on our planet, and more specifically, on weather and other natural phenomenon here (like earthquakes).
We got to spend some time at a mock up of a news station and make our own weather update, and we also got to do some really amazing hands on experiments that allowed us to create clouds, watch how a tornado is formed, and mimic the waves of a tsunami to better understand exactly why they happen.
In addition to all of these amazing exhibits, the Orlando Science Center also had countless areas designed for movement and play, as well as rest and reflection. It also has an on-site Subway restaurant which means that lunch prices here do not bring sticker shock, and that’s a welcome change for tourists, I must say! This place is not something to check out for 2-3 hours. It is 100% worth an entire day on your agenda in Orlando. You will learn a lot, and so will your kids, and it will stick with them. We’ve been back home for 2 weeks now and my kiddos are still talking about this place and have asked if we can go again the next time we are in the area. That’s high praise when you keep in mind that on the same trip these kids also went to the big theme parks that most of us associate with the area. Orlando Science Center still stands out as an amazing day for them, and it does for me, too! I very, very highly recommend Orlando Science Center and I personally can’t wait to get to go again!