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The Michigan Science Center in Detroit – or Mi-Sci, as it’s called for short – is packed with over 300 hands-on exhibits that expose kids to engineering, space, health and physics. Dating back to the ’70s (and formerly the Detroit Science Center), it also features a wide variety of live stage shows and demos, as well as the state’s largest movie screen, projecting educational, science-themed IMAX films.
A cool new addition in late 2013 is the Kidstruction Zone. This innovative exhibit is all about S.T.E.M. – that’s science, technology, engineering and math. In 10 “build zones” spanning 3,000 square feet, kids get their hands on Legos, Keva Planks, Lincoln Logs and even big foam blocks, all designed to spark their inner architect or engineer while exploring and having fun (there’s even a central “Parent Safety Zone” for you to chill in). It’s free with admission and slated to be here until at least May 26, 2014.
Temporary exhibits also visit Mi-Sci. As of winter 2014, expect to find Wish Upon a Butterfly, where you can interact with hundreds of butterflies, caterpillars and pupas in a 20-by-30-foot terrarium! Kids explore these insects’ life cycles through various demonstrations and can even feed them using special nectar. It’s paired with IMAX film Flight of the Butterflies, which follows monarchs and their migration to Mexico. Spanning Jan. 11-June 1, 2014, this exhibit is an extra $3/person, or $5 to also see the movie (general admission also applies).
Got kids 5 and under? They can explore loads of life skills the permanent Kids Town attraction. Budding scientists learn about mixtures and solutions in a diner – then test the laws of physics in a field house. It offers seasonal programs and Young Explorer Days (10 a.m. first Wednesdays), which includes story time and science-themed activities for little kids and caregivers (must register; $10/one child and one adult).
If you’re bringing littler kids, arrive earlier, senior marketing manager Kerri Budde adds. “It’s great to come around 11 a.m.,” she notes. “The science center specifically caters to young children, and we sometimes have special programs.”
This article originally appeared in the winter 2014 edition of Education Detroit.