Last Updated on July 9, 2013 by Jody Halsted
There's a feeling you get when you walk into Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ. It's a feeling of possibility. The spacious layout and hands-on exhibits draw you in to the wonder of science and experimentation, and the inspiring views of the New York City skyline remind you of freedom at every window.
My family has enjoyed Liberty Science Center (LSC) for years. Our visit last week started with the Skyscraper! exhibit, where we saw artifacts from 9/11 and learned how skyscrapers are built. The little ones (and not so little ones!) had fun building their own skyscrapers, while the more adventurous in our group walked a narrow steel girder 18 feet above ground, just like the ironworkers!
Next we experienced 100 mph hurricane-force wind and rain while learning how engineers test how buildings behave in high winds. We got suited up in ponchos and goggles and sat in a wind tunnel. The wind and rain blew through the center and we were able to test the force with our hands – we would have been blown over if we'd stood up!
LSC, like most science centers, hosts traveling exhibits. From now until mid-May 2013, you and your kids can be immersed in the world of Avatar. With interactive installations and original props from the movie, you'll learn how this amazing film was created using groundbreaking animation technology. My kids loved playing the games and learning the Na'vi language. My daughter's favorite activity was creating her own plant.
For the younger set, there's the Curious George exhibit (also there until mid-May). Little fans of the funny monkey will delight in getting up close and personal with familiar settings from the show. They'll explore the produce stand, city park, farm, space rocket slide, and mini golf – all while learning a bit about math, science and engineering.
After a bite to eat at the cafe, the kids visited the Energy Quest and Got Power? exhibits where they were able to experiment with various ways to make things go. From wind to tidal and solar to muscle, we used power to race cars, light up bulbs, move fans and spin wheels. My kids couldn't get enough of these exhibits.
Another spot I couldn't pull them away from was the Wonder Why exhibit. You'll want to grab a seat and relax while the kids climb the rock wall, test their reaction time, make a 6-foot soap bubble, balance a beach ball on a stream of air, and more. I couldn't get them to move on until I mentioned the Touch Tunnel…
The Touch Tunnel is an 80-foot long, crawl-through pitch-black maze that has been the hands-down favorite at LSC for years. I tried it myself, and it's an eye-opening experience feeling your way through complete and utter darkness. I think my kids crawled through seven times in a row. Thankfully, it wasn't very crowded that day and we didn't have to wait in lines!
Finally we made our way to the Infection Connection, where the kids were once again enthralled. This time it was the sneeze display that blew them away. Motion activated, this display sends out a puff of air and water, simulating a sneeze, whenever anyone gets within a few feet. I thought it was kinda' gross, but the kids were belly-laughing and loving it, walking by again and again… and again!
And there's even more to enjoy at LSC. There are live demos and lab experiences (reservations taken on a first-come, first-served basis), IMAX movies, story time, animal encounters, and an outdoor Wildlife Challenge (weather permitting).
Something else to love about LSC? Every window affords gorgeous views of the New York City skyline. You can see the Empire State Building, the Freedom Tower, and the Statue of Liberty and there's an observation deck that is not to be missed.
If you're in the NY/NJ area, spend a day at Liberty Science Center. You and your family will leave feeling inspired by a world of possibilities.