Wondering where to take your small fry to experience STEM fun through hands-on science? We offer six ideas of places that offer education programs for a wide range of ages, many of them ongoing. Plus we keep track of fun STEM events in Minnesota and at-home fun here!
6 Places for Anytime Hands-on Science with Kids
1. Gabbert Raptor Center Tours
Address: 1920 Fitch Ave, St Paul, MN 55108
When: Currently taking reservations for tours.
Cost: $5/kids & $8/adults
Details: Bring kids of any age for a fun and educational visit to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center. Check out their remodeled raptor habitats, and get up close to bald eagles, kestrels, owls and falcons. The tours are about 45 minutes in length. The Raptor Center treats about 800 injured birds a year with the goal of releasing them back to the wild. Read more about taking kids to the Raptor Center here.
2. Bakken Museum
Address: 3537 Zenith Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55416
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10am-5pm
Cost: $13/adults, $9/students (with ID) & $7/children 4+; FREE 3 and under
Details: Whether you go on your own schedule or for a special program, The Bakken always has hands-on science fun to explore. Read more about it here.
3. The Works Museum
Address: 9740 Grand Ave, Bloomington, MN 55420
When: Open Saturday and Special Days During Construction beginning February 25, 2023.
Details: Dig into the guts of machines and electronics and figure out how those gadgets work! All kinds of fun, hands-on STEM exhibits for kids make this a great choice for an educational outing.
4. Science Museum of Minnesota
Address: 120 W. Kellogg Boulevard, Saint Paul, MN 55102
When: Fridays & Saturdays: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Wednesdays, Thursdays & Sundays: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Advance reservations are recommended but not required to visit.
Cost: $30/adults, $20/children (additional for Omnitheatre; low income discount available).
Details: Three stories of permanent and traveling science exhibits. Find find hands-on science activities to go with whatever you are studying. Look for Summer Camps and release day STEM Classes For Kids.
5. Kroening Interpretive Center
Address: 4900 Mississippi Court, Minneapolis, MN 55430
When: Tuesday-Friday: 9 am-4:30 pm; Saturday: 10 am-4 pm; Sunday: Noon-4 pm. MPRB is offers nature activities and events. Search and register here.
Cost: Free (Some special activities have a fee)
Details: Explore on your own or in a special activity. Find this are more ideas for nature play here.
Find our Full List of Nature Centers Here: Twin Cities Nature Centers & Outdoor Centers
6. The Bell Museum of Natural History
Address: 2088 Larpenteur Avenue West, Saint Paul, MN 55113
When: Wednesday-Sunday 10am-4pm
Cost: Ages 21-64: $12; 65+: $10; 3-21 $9; Under 3: Free
Details: The recently re-built and updated Bell Museum re-opened in the summer of 2018 and has brought back its popular planetarium along with natural history exhibits.
Annual STEM Fun Events to Look Forward to Most Years!
U of M College of Science & Engineering Outreach Events
- Physics Force Show: Physicists demonstrate their science with crazy stunts. The shows are $3/pp (Free for kids under 10) and reservations are required. Held at Northrop Auditorium. Next show: January 9-14, 2023.
- Cool Chemistry: For girls in grades 7-8 features interactive workshops, chemistry “tricks,” and new skills. (2023 date TBA – usually April)
- Public Lectures—College of Science and Engineering: For grades 9-12. Public lectures on scientific discoveries.
- Public Energy and U Show: For grades 3-8. An interactive show incorporating explosions, flames, flying pop bottles, music, and dancing and teach thermodynamics, world energy use, and energy challenges. (2023 dates TBA – usually January and May)
- Public telescope viewings: All ages. Presentation followed by outdoor observing. (September 16th to December 9th, 2022)
- Robot show: All ages. Public show featuring robots built by 200+ engineering students (2022 TBA – usually December).
- Universe in the Park: Weekends through the summer – see the link for our posted schedule.
Signature Events at the Works Museum
The Works Museum has a couple large events a year, all of which feature hands-on activities and demonstrations to bring engineering and STEM to life in a uniquely kid-friendly way. These events are aimed at families with children ages 4-13.
Spring • Tech Fest • Featuring kid-friendly demos of emerging technology and activities led by scientists, engineers, and educators. April 15, 2023.
April • Robot Day • A day to watch demos by local robotics experts and local teens and learn about robots used in local industry. Hands-on activities with kid-friendly robotics. (Usually held during National Robotics Week, which is April 1-8, 2023)
Fall • Girl Time • Encourages girls to dig deeper into science, technology, engineering and math.
Hands-On Science and STEM Fun At Home
- The Bell Museum’s Website is packed with STEM fun you can view at home – How to be a Citizen Scientist in your backyard, how to identify spring animal sounds, watch as they feed a baby box turtle, and more.
- Learn Natural Sciences by Getting Out Into Nature: 65+ Fun Nature Play Ideas for Kids
- Gianna has gathered some fun Science Activities for Kids.
- Check out one of the Kitchen Pantry Scientist books by Minnesota’s Liz Heinecke.
- The Minnesota Academy of Science’s Stem From Home page offers a variety of resources and experiments to try at home.
- MNDOT has STEM activities for K-12, including bridge building activities, games, geometry. This is a really fun site – who would have thought?
- We’ve recently found a few alternatives to those expensive subscription boxes that could keep a family happily occupied with STEM activities all year long!
- Ramsey County Library STEM Kits – Check Them Out & Bring Them Home! Two cool facts about Ramsey County Library: 1) Patrons can checkout STEM kits designed for families with children ages 3-7. They come in a variety of themes, including magnets, motion, buoyancy, length, weight, volume and capacity, shapes and colors, patterns, and counting and numbers, and can be borrowed for three weeks at a time and can be renewed if there are no requests. 2) Anyone in the 7-county metropolitan area can get a Ramsey County Library Card. Bring in a current picture ID. Kids need to have a parent’s current picture ID.
- Environmental Education Kits for your Home School Group! These kits are not available to individuals or those outside Hennepin County, but groups located in Hennepin County can borrow Education Kits, Supplies & Event Displays. If you belong to a home school group, PTA, club or scouting group, it appears your group could qualify. While these kits range from propaganda to demonstrations to hands-on activities, they discuss environmental topics such as recycling, water management and waste prevention. For individual families, this same site offers Curriculum Ideas and Activity Guides to print.
- 3M offers these (somewhat product-heavy) ideas for Creating a STEM-friendly home environment.
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