Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is a Science Blast for Kids

It's worth the family day trip from Detroit! This learning center is packed with exhibits and events that excite and engage preschoolers to tweens and teens.

Content brought to you by Excellent Schools Detroit

Kids learn loads at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. But no need to give that away. They’ll be having such a blast sleuthing these four packed floors – and the 250 science-inspired, imagination-stirring exhibits inside – they won’t even realize it.


Whether it’s exploring the human body, simple machines or stepping inside a giant bubble, it’s easy to get swept up, says Cory Joyrich, senior director of advancement.

“We’re really good at designing and enhancing exhibits that are so engaging that they’re just fun to play with,” he says – from tykes to retirees. It doesn’t even matter if you read the plaques. “You’re going to learn intuitively.”

A great example is H2Oh!, a permanent exhibit showcasing liquid’s power. Pump water, use streams, build dams, spray nozzles and more to see how it can push, pull and move contraptions. “It’s almost irresistible,” Joyrich says.

For wee ones, the Preschool Gallery features dress-up and a scaled-down fire engine. Engineers on a Roll is a hit, too – “It’s like a real-life room-sized version of the old game Mouse Trap,” says Joyrich, complete with balls, baskets and chutes. Or catch the under-4 story events, held 9 a.m. Tuesdays and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays.

Tweens and teens: They’re covered too. Nano, which explores tiny participles, deals with heavier concepts, filled with balance blocks, magnetite sand experiments and more. GameStart Workshops, held 5-8 p.m. Thursdays, are also a big draw for grades 5-8, featuring engineering with the popular Minecraft game. (Just be sure to register in advance; they fill up fast.)

Want to avoid the rush? September, October and November are AAHOM’s “quietest months,” its site notes. Weekends tend to get busier. Get more bang for your buck 5-8 p.m. Thursdays, when entry’s just $5. “We always have something going on here,” Joyrich notes. “Every day.”

Best of all, especially for families who live in the Detroit area, the AAHOM is truly a day-trip no brainer. It’s a good 50-minute trek from the city, but worth it.

“We are a little out of Detroit’s beaten path, but not as much as you might think,” Joyrich says. In the heart of Tree Town, it’s minutes from lots of food, shopping and more. That is, if you finally decide to leave! (Don’t worry: Your admission is good for the entire day, so you can come back, with receipt.)


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