“Mommy! Are those real rocket ships?”
Rounding the corner into the driveway of the New York Hall of Science, my preschooler lost her mind. You can’t climb the rockets, but yes, they are very tall, very real, and clearly, very exciting.
I offered to write about the Hall for Jersey Kids because it’s really one of the unsung joys of the metro area. Unless you live in Queens, it’s not the easiest trip, well over an hour on transit from our Brooklyn home. If you’re coming from New Jersey, you’re instead navigating across tunnels through Manhattan.
But it’s one of the rare places where both my 5th grader and her PreK sister feel equally engaged.
An interactive tech exhibit at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. Copyright Anne Miller
Not all of it clicks. Some of the galleries in this standard children’s museum galleries include too much written content for the little one, but not enough depth for the big kid. Ages 6 to 9 seemed the sweet spot for those exhibits.
But there’s also a variety of hands-on activities that support a full-body science experience, from fine motor building projects to full-body full-on movement and play.
A huge maker space on the bottom floor, cleverly designed around a beehive of shelving and a treehouse-like center structure, offers rotating design challenges. Make a container to send a plastic animal figurine down a two-story zip line from restaurant takeout containers and straws. Build a robot from AA batteries and found objects. Every station has staff who support and encourage kids to stretch their designs and their creativity.
Testing the animal figurine zip line at the maker space at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. Copyright Anne Miller
In summer, a playground exposes them to physics: sound pipes carry voices, color screens play at light. This winter, an indoor skating rink with fake ice – Glice – wore them out. They both loved the 3D movie about Pacific Ocean life, which was long enough to learn something, short enough that the younger one wasn’t bored.
The main drawback is the price, compared to other city establishments (the movie, playground, and skating are all add-on fees, as is mini golf which we didn’t try out). A family of 4 with an all-access entrance ticket and parking would spend just over $150 for the day. Also, the main entrance is closed with sandbags around the front – there’s been construction over the years, some due to hurricane flooding, so the first-floor layout can feel confusing.
But for a solid day of hands-on educational activities away from the typical tourist crowds, the New York Hall of Science should be on more local itineraries.
–By Anne Miller
If you go to the New York Hall of Science
Location: New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th St, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Corona (Queens)
Cost: $16/$13 per person for basic tickets, $35 adults/$32 kids and seniors for all-access, $12 parking (they do have free community hours Friday afternoon). Activities can be added on singularly, around $5 each.
Hours: Wed. – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm (with occasional extra availability on some school holidays)
Dining: If you want to experience some of the fantastic food in Queens, check out some Queens dining ideas from Jersey Kids.
Disclosure: The New York Hall of Science provided tickets for review.