ToddlerGeek Field Trip: Science City

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Location: Science City at Union Station in Kansas City, Mo.

When: Monday, May 28

Why: It was supposed to rain and we had free passes … and I was looking forward to playing with all the stuff.

Cost: $13.95 get you into KC Rail Experience, Science City, Gottlieb Planetarium, and one Regnier Extreme Screen movie; for $8.95 you get into Science City, KC Rail Experience, and Gottlieb Planetarium. No word on their site if there’s a kid discount. A ridiculously horrendous lunch was for three was $24.

Background: Science City (SC) has joined a list of things that were supposed to save Union Station. Unfortunately, it hasn’t lived up to its potential due to a lack of marketing and an inability to add new exhibits on a regular basis. While it’s not in our personal rotation like the zoo, the Nelson or even a park, it’s still a good time and well worth the trip.

An on-site review and pictures after the jump.

Even though SC is aimed at kids older than The Boy (who’s 2.8), there is plenty to do for any kid able to walk and explore. Some of The Boy’s favorites included the four-hole putt-putt golf course right by the entrance (sorry, no pictures of it).

Three of the four have a unique mechanical or pneumatic way to get the ball to the hole. The final hole is the really neat one—it has a turntable that sends the ball on its way and, once the ball goes into the hole, it fires the ball into the air toward a basket. It tops that by playing a little tune on a Casio keyboard when all is done, using air to move the "fingers."

On the downside, it shoots baskets like I do and only about two in ten make it within a yard of the basket. On the downer side, it plays keyboards much better than I do.

Next up was an area to dig a dino out of shredded tires:

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Note: A trowel full of shredded tires, when flung across the room by an older child, has this annoying-yet-impressive ability to find one’s eye. And they taste like old shredded tires. I highly recommend using the supplied goggles.

The next stop was a playground with bubble-shooting fire hydrants. For some reason, The Boy turns into a Labrador Retriever when bubbles are involved and just has to pop them all.

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My personal favorite in terms of displays was the "water table" (my name, not theirs):

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You can move the pieces around to create different currents, then send a boat or ball down to test it. It was easily the most popular attraction yesterday, with big kids trying to set things up in a Very Serious Way … and the little kids quietly following and taking it all apart.

For his part, The Boy liked making the boats splash and watching them sail away.

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While there was a ton of other stuff to do (there are crime and dino labs, a TV studio where kids can produce their own newscast, a nature room with reptiles and bugs, etc.), he’s just not at the age yet where most of it is interesting. It was also getting dangerously close to nap time, so we headed on over to the Harvey’s House Diner (also in Union Station).  Don’t ever make the same mistake.

The food was horrendous. I mean bad. I’m talking "Pining for the days of Ramen Noodles ‘cooked’ with hot water out of the faucet" bad. And the service wasn’t any better.

Other than the fact we should have brought our own food and had a picnic somewhere, we had a really good time. There’s also enough there to take him at least once a year since different displays will be interesting at different times.

As a bonus, trains are always going through the yards. I think we all know how kids love the trains.

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