The week before Christmas, the 3 of us decided we wanted to have a family day together. As Laine gets older (she’ll be 14 next month), these days are trickier to plan, since we are attempting to balance our common interests with our budget! We decided to give Liberty Science Center a try. We have been wanting to visit this well reviewed attraction for a number of months but hadn’t gotten around to it, so a cold, snowy, New Jersey day seemed perfect!
Liberty Science Center is located in Jersey City, right near Liberty State Park, which has spectacular views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. We, however, did not experience either, due mostly to our first (very cold) snow fall of the year. In the future, I would not hesitate to attend on a day when we could enjoy the park and the science center together. Fees for the science center ranged from $19.75 to $29.75 for adults, and $14.75 to $23.75 for children, the variance being your preferences with regards to watching IMAX movies. Parking lots were available onsite at a rate of $7.00 per day.
With a tween or teen, so much of your experience at any venue such as this is dependent on attitude, and we scored, because ours was in the mood to have fun! She was a willing participant, and enjoyed exhibits that on another day she might not have. Like many science centers we have visited, a good portion of the exhibits at LSC were designed for a younger audience, but LSC balanced this fairly well by providing a number of activities that were suitable for an older demographic. Here are the things we enjoyed the most, and why.
We started our day at the da Vinci Surgical Robot Exhibit. Laine enjoyed practicing her ‘surgical skills’ on a robotic simulator, more suitable for children ages 12 and up. The exhibit required 3D glasses, and LSC provided disposable pairs for each guest. We learned about human expression at Communication. There were plenty of hands on activities including quill writing, graffiti artistry, and sign language interpretation, as well as exhibits that demonstrated the scientific elements of sound.
The Wonder Why exhibit and Energy Quest were 2 that we enjoyed, but found both to be below the interest level of a tween. Some activities in these exhibits were kind of like giant toys, however, so we did stay and play for awhile. We enjoyed creating our own stop-motion animation, making giant bubbles and riding bicycles to give energy to light bulbs and fans. There were also a number of puzzles and brain teasers that kept us busy for awhile! These were more challenging and some needed the brain power of the whole family!
My daughter has always enjoyed going to zoos, and learning about animals has continued to be a joyful part of our homeschooling curriculum. So when we stumbled upon the Eat and be Eaten exhibit, we were thrilled! The exhibit is about animal adaptation for survival, which was a topic in school in December, so it was a perfect fit for us. There were a large variety of kinds of animals – amphibians, fish, mammals, and insects to name a few. Like many of their exhibits, LSC also has a free downloadable educational packet that corresponds to this exhibit which includes experiments and learning materials for schoolroom use, as well as additional pages that can be completed at the center. Here’s the link! Check out the website for other packets at different grade levels, as well.
I particularly enjoyed Infection Connection. This large exhibit housed real working laboratories where kids and grown ups alike could test for infections and participate in experiments (lab coat and gloves necessary). There was a lot of information about hygiene and preventative health, as well as stations where visitors could attempt to diagnose a patient. I was slightly disappointed that these stations did not seem to be working correctly, however. A few minutes into the diagnostic tests it seemed that the machines would freeze up. But even so, we spent a good deal of time wandering around this exhibit. We stumbled into a small theater which was was showing a film about HIV and AIDS. I was amazed that such a serious topic was being discussed at a science center. The video was excellent, showing the way in which the human immunodeficiency virus invades cells and replicates itself. For a few glorious moments, I had the opportunity to use this video as a wonderful teaching opportunity about sexual health and the importance of safety regarding the spread of HIV. It was a conversation starter, and my tween asked questions, and was engaged in a great discussion. There were other places within the Infection Connection exhibit where sexual health was discussed, which I found uncommon and engaging for my older learner.
We watched Great White Shark in the IMAX dome theater which was 45 minutes of beauty and terror. The theater is very cool – a true dome – but for younger children I believe the theater would have been scary as it is very steep, and this movie would have been horrifying to a younger crowd. We purchased drinks before entering the theater and were pleasantly surprised that we were allowed to bring them in with us. If we returned we would buy tickets to another IMAX movie.
These are a few highlights of our experience, but we saw and experienced much more (including me walking along this narrow steel beam! Harnessed in but still scared to death, I completed this exhilarating challenge! I give Liberty Science Center 5 out of 5 stars for its wonderful atmosphere, cleanliness and diversity of its exhibits. For its tween appeal, I would give it a 4 out of 5. For a mom who loves science centers, I would highly recommend spending a day with your kids of all ages at LSC.
Have you been here? Do you have any tips for other parents considering a visit? How about any questions for me? Just comment below!