Geeky States of America: Orlando Science Center

Orlando Science Center  Image courtesy of the Orlando Science Center
Orlando Science Center Image courtesy of the Orlando Science Center

Despite being something of a well-kept secret for many, the Orlando Science Center is like a second home to me.

When it hosted Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, my husband and I were frequent visitors as members of the 501st and Rebel Legion. Now that the Star Wars exhibit is in a new home, though, some new, very-worthwhile exhibits have debuted in its place. With everything from Clifford the Big Red Dog to one of Florida’s largest publicly-accessible refractor telescopes, there’s something for all ages within these four floors of science-filled fun.

Summer Nights

On select Friday and Saturday evenings from June 14th thru August 17th, visiting families can enjoy Summer Nights. This summer-only experience offers families the chance to stay at the science center from 7pm to 10pm with live programming, full access to all exhibits, and the choice of one, feature-length movie in the Digital Adventure Theater.

Potential Hollywood films include:

  • Jurrasic Park 3D
  • Iron Man 3 in 3D
  • Star Trek Into the Darkness 3D
  • Monsters University

Crosby Observatory  Image courtesy of the Orlando Science Center (Titles are subject to change, so make sure to double check the website or call ahead before planning your visit.)

To finish the night, visitors can take a look at the sky from the Crosby Observatory and peer through one of the state’s largest publicly-accessible refractor telescopes.

Unfortunately, the last time I visited the Science Center, it was raining and we were unable to view anything. In the past, however, I’ve seen various planets, including Mars, and taken in some stargazing, as well. I remember being surprised by the size of the actual telescope because I was expecting something so powerful to be a lot bigger!

Blue Man Group – Making Waves

I really love this exhibit’s futuristic tunnel entrance for little people. Once inside “Making Waves,” most of the stations involve banging on PVC piping with rubber mallets to produce different sounds. As you can see in the video below, my husband had just as much fun going to the different stations as my son!

The only negative I found to the exhibit is that it’s relatively small. I was hoping for something a lot bigger when I first walked in and on a busy day, the space fills up quickly.

Want to try this at home? You can easily replicate some of the experiments by building your own PVC musical instruments.

For more Blue Man Group, check out their show at Universal Studios.

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Adventures with Clifford The Big Red Dog

Clifford Exhibit  Image courtesy of the Orlando Science Center Clifford The Big Red Dog made his Science Center debut on May 4th and will hang out in Orlando until September 8th, 2013. Inspired by Scholastic Entertainment’s hit TV show, Clifford The Big Red Dog, this exhibit gives children a “paws-on” experience to reinforce “Clifford’s Big Ideas.”

While this isn’t exactly a geeky exhibit, I’m including it for those with younger children who need to take a break from running around with the big kids. My son is seven years old and compared to the other kids, he was way too big for this one. We still let him play here, though, because he loves younger children and he enjoyed walking them around to the different exhibits and helping them learn.

The ten simple and tangible workstations of the exhibit teach young children character lessons about topics ranging from playing fair, sharing, and working together to being responsible, truthful, kind, and confident. I was pretty impressed by how well this exhibit captured Clifford’s world and noticed that the stations are just the right size for preschoolers. The Science Center also gets bonus points for having only one door into this exhibit, so little kids can run around and parents don’t have to worry about them running out on their own.

It was nice to let my son run around while I sat by the door and relaxed. Some of the various stations here included:

  • Clifford’s Doghouse
  • Samuel’s Fish and Chips Shack – My son had a lot of fun ordering food and being served a pretend meal by other children.
  • Emily’s Backyard Theater – Children can dress up in costumes and dance along to the music on the big screen.
  • Birdwell Island Post Office – Each station has a mail box and all the mail gets sorted and delivered from here.

Between the refractor telescope, movies, and the Clifford and Blue Man Group exhibits, my family was kept busy for a good couple of hours. There’s a ton of other stuff to see as well at the Science Center, including live animals, so you can easily spend most of the day there. If you do plan on spending the entire day at the Science Center, the cafeteria has a Subway to keep your family fed. If you plan on seeing a movie during your visit, bringing along some of preferred snacks probably wouldn’t hurt.

The Orlando Science Center is easily 45 minutes from the theme parks, so schedule this outing for a day your kids aren’t planning on seeing Mickey Mouse or Scooby Doo. For more information, including hours of operation and ticket prices for the Orlando Science Center, check out their website.

I received tickets from the Orlando Science Center for the use of writing this post.

Dakster Sullivan is a network administrator by day and a cosplayer by night. She loves discovering new books to read, tech to play with, and ways to express her herself. She has anxiety and depression and strives to educate others about these invisible illnesses.