Guest Post: iNeedaPlaydate's Spring Break Trip to the Great Lakes Science Center

To say Cleveland is a diverse community would be an understatement. Because of the city’s different interests and strengths, blogging about an assortment of topics is something I strive for.

I’m the first to admit I could do a better job at this. Subsequently, when my coworker and fellow Ohio Blogger Mary Johnson tweeted me about reviewing her trip to Downtown Cleveland’s Great Lakes Science Center, I was overjoyed. 

Mary is an amazing mother of two (follow her journey at iNeedaPlaydate) and I’m happy she chose to spotlight such a family-friendly venue on Clue Into Cleveland.  Even though Scott and I don’t have kids (yet), Mary’s review of the Science Center has us planning a visit there very soon!

– Amanda


Nothing says spring break like an Educational Field Trip!  At least, not in my house growing up … Spring break meant lazy days at the Grandparents or – if my parents were feeling adventurous – maybe opening up the camper early. But taking us to museums much less ones about science … not so much. 

Of course, it never even occurred to me as a mom, now, that these would be fun places to go until talking with another mom who is a *gasp* Great Lakes Science Center member?!? 

Really…?  A science museum…?  And, you say Cleveland has a great one no less?  I had to check this out!  But… my son, who is in kindergarten and I refer to as the Kindergartner on my blog, has a favorite go-to place for fun and convincing him that we were going to a science museum was not going to be an easy sell. 

The Children's Museum (pictured) was the Kindergartner and his little sister's favorite place until they visited the Great Lakes Science Center. Now we have a second favorite.

You see, his favorite place is the Children’s Museum, which is an amazing, fun place to explore.  They have a rotating exhibit on the main floor, which right now is the Egyptian Sands exhibit (there till May) and then, in the basement, is the main attraction.  At least for the Kindergartner, it is the main attraction – they have an exhibit called Bridges to Our Community

In this exhibit, besides a house, a doctor’s office, a bus, a grocery store, a bank and a few other “places” they can play in, there is the Kindergartner’s “most favorite thing in the whole world” – a working stoplight.  Yes, friends, my son is obsessed with stoplights.  If there was a stronger word for obsession, I would use it. The Children’s Museum has one and he gets to play with it!  Do you see why this whole science thing will be a hard sell?

When I told him of the plans I was surprised at how easy it was to convince him to go. Well, after I explained to him where it was located and that it was the place with the giant windmill … he was intrigued.  It also helped that second only to his obsession to stoplights (oh and train crossing signs, it’s a tie) is his love of anything in downtown Cleveland, which happens to have a lot of stoplights.

The very first thing he wanted to do when we arrived at the Great Lakes Science Center was to check out the wind turbine that actually produces, with the help of the 300 feet of solar canopy, 6% of the power used at the science center.  He was absolutely amazed by that and by the immense size of the wind turbine (150 feet tall).  It was hard to convince him to go into the actual science center but pointing out the huge solar panels we had to walk under and the magical revolving doors that sense when we wanted to go in was a big draw to get him in the building.

Once inside, I was stunned by the size.  It did not look that big from the outside.  The stats from their website are really impressive. I was also impressed and I admit, grateful, that the ticket prices were reasonable and after spending the entire day there – so worth every penny.  And… baby was free! 

The Kindergartner measures up against the Great Lakes Science Center's wind turbine.

Before I go further I am also going to mention that the Kindergartner made a friend and this friend and his family were going to see Tornado Ally at the OMNIMAX® Theater.  It was not my intention to spend more money than I had to especially if he was not going to want to see it … but he has a friend and they were going … so I got in line to buy tickets. 

Now, by this point, we had already been here some time and my original receipt was locked away in one of the lockers the Science Center has for rent so I was expecting to pay full price for two tickets to see this movie.  But… I did not!  They gave me the pick of two price difference!  WooHoo!  Score!  I did not have to pay full price!

The movie, by the way, was very cool.  The baby was even mesmerized for most of the movie and it was the first time I got to see a whole movie, sitting, in a long time.  I cannot wait to see Born to Be Wild (yes, we are returning), which is about orphaned animals in Africa living with humans. 

The OMNIMAX® Theater is something that just has to be experienced.  It is a smaller theater than a traditional one and you get the feeling of being immersed into the movie.  It felt like we were in the storm but it was also a little deceptive because it did not really discuss the human impact of the storm until the end.  With only watching the tornado chasers searching for the next storm, the Kindergartner wanted to visit Tornado Ally for vacation.  It was not til the end when you can see the destruction and it feels like you are in the middle of it that he decided against going there for a vacation.

Keep in mind that the movie was just 45 minutes out of our entire day there (an hour if you count the 15-minute wait to get into the theater).  I would say that the majority of our time was spent between the Science Phenomena Floor and the Polymer Funhouse

We also checked out the NASA Glenn Visitor Center and very briefly the Biomedical Technology Gallery.  For those of us who grew up in Cleveland and took field trips to NASA you will recognize the NASA Glenn Visitor Center as just that – the lobby from NASA transported to the science center.  They closed the lobby and brought it to the science center.  When I heard about it on the news, I was a little sad but after walking through it and then being able to go off and see other things, I realized the wisdom of their decision. 

Both the Kindergartner and his baby sister enjoyed playing in the Science Center's Polymer Funhouse.

I knew from the website that Polymer Funhouse was going to be popular so I was prepared to spend a lot of our time playing in the ball pit but I was not prepared for how neat it would actually be to play with in person.  Granted, I was not actually allowed in the pit because it is meant for the seven and under bunch but it was a joy to watch the Kindergartner learn about cause and effect and even teamwork as he worked with the other kids to fill the overhead bin with balls using a pulley system, a ball canon and their own ingenuity and then stand under the contraption while another kid pulled the release to let down a flood of balls.  Of course, the Kindergartner was in the middle of it all. 

There was a quieter end of the ball pit that the baby could play in without being trampled on and there was even a… thing (for lack of a better word) that is constantly blowing air so you can balance the balls in the of stream air and watch them float. The baby also enjoyed an exhibit that was created with PCP pipes and you drop balls into one of three locations and watch them roll down the pipes.  She would sit in the middle of it and hand the balls to the kids who walk by and each and every one of them would oblige her and drop the balls so she could watch them roll down, again and again and again. 

Those are just two of the many different things you get to touch and explore in the funhouse.  It is a socks-only area of fun and in the summer they expand it to some water fun on the deck that overlooks the North Coast Harbor. 

The Great Lakes Science Center even had a stoplight exhibit - definitely a winner for our family!

I wish I had a better vocabulary to describe all the cool things they have there but alas… I don’t and I have failed to mention that except for the funhouse – all exhibits are open to all ages!  I would also say that 100% of the exhibits are interactive in some sort of way. 

There is literally something for everyone whether you are interested in music, weather, bubbles, anatomy, space… 

Remember when I told you about the Kindergartner’s obsession with stoplights?  Guess what they have there?  If you said, “an entire exhibit dedicated to stoplights and how they work” you would be absolutely right.  See, something for everyone.

So dear readers of Clue into Cleveland… don’t walk but run to the Great Lakes Science Center.  It is worth every penny of the membership.


About the Guest Author: Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson is the wife & mom behind where she blogs between working full time and attempting (albeit half heartedly) to do the laundry.  Her topics range from random thoughts, stories from her life and the world around her, and the occasional product review thrown in for good measure. Follow her on Twitter @marirene74.

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: iNeedaPlaydate's Spring Break Trip to the Great Lakes Science Center

  1. Pingback: The Flippin’ Good Deeds Challenge with iNeed a Playdate « Clue Into Cleveland

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