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 have several upcoming events you won’t want to miss!
Current & Upcoming Events featuring STEM Fun
Fridays, February 7, 2020 – May 1, 2020 • Public telescope viewings • 8pm • UM Astrophysics • All ages. This FREE program includes a presentation followed by outdoor observing. Find the Spring Semester Schedule here. Note there are no shows during spring break.
Saturday, February 8, 2020 • Tech Fest • 10am-4pm • The Works Museum, Bloomington, MN • Featuring kid-friendly demos of emerging technology and activities led by scientists, engineers, and educators. Cost: $9-$12/pp
Sunday, February 9, 2020 • Family Zoo Adventure: Dr. Zoolittle • 1pm-3pm • Minnesota Zoo • Learn what zoo vets do to take care of sick animals. • Register Online: $50/adult-child pair; $25 additional family members.
Sunday, February 16, 2020 • Spark, Slime, and Speed • 12pm-4pm • Science Museum of Minnesota • Kids will build and perform the experiments with the help of real engineers. Included in regular museum admission. See website for tickets
Sunday, February 16, 2020 • Free Third Sunday: HOT WHEELS: Race to Win Exhibit • 9am-5pm • Minnesota Children’s Museum • Kids kids will explore physics concepts through the world of car racing. Included with Regular Admission Jan. 18 through May 24. FREE on Third Sundays.
Saturday, February 22, 2020 • Women in Science and Engineering • 12pm-4pm • Science Museum of Minnesota • Pop-up learning stations and one-on-one interaction with female scientists, and other activities. See website for tickets
Sunday, February 23, 2020 • February Story Time: Loony Little: The Ice Cap Is Melting by Dianna Hutts Aston • 11:30am-12:30pm • Bell Museum • Families are invited to listen to a story and participate in an engaging STEAM hands-on activity. Included with Regular Admission – $9-$12/pp.
Friday, February 28, 2020 • January Star Party • 7:30pm-9pm • Bell Museum • Explore the sky with the Bell Museum. FREE telescope observing nights take place monthly during the University’s Fall and Spring semesters. These are very informal and family-friendly. Museum Admission is NOT included, FREE, but $5 donation requested.
Saturday, February 29, 2020 • Civil Engineering Day • 12pm-4pm • Science Museum of Minnesota • Meet with civil engineers and tinker with activities that address the challenges civil engineers face every day. See website for tickets.
Saturday, March 7, 2020 • First Saturday Science: Within The Code • 12pm-2pm • Metropolitan State University, Science Education Center • Each month, students are guided through an exploration of a specific field of inquiry in a hands-on laboratory. FREE and Open to All Ages.
6 Places for Anytime Hands-on Science with Kids
When: Every half hour, 10:30am-3:30pm, Tues-Fri & 12:30 pm-3:30pm, Sat/Sun
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 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.
3537 Zenith Avenue South, Minneapolis
Cost: $10/adults, $8/students & seniors, under 4 FREE
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.
9740 Grand Ave, Bloomington
When: Hours vary throughout the year
Details: Dig into the guts of machines and electronics and figure out how those gadgets work! All supplies provided.
Science Museum of Minnesota
120 W. Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul
When: Open Daily. Sun-Wed 9:30 am-5:00 pm; Thurs-Sat 9:30 an-9:00 pm
Cost: $12.95-$18.95 (additional for Omni-Theatre).
Details: Three stories of permanent and traveling science exhibits. Find find hands-on science activities to go with whatever you are studying.
Kroening Interpretive Center
4900 Mississippi Court, Minneapolis
When: Hours vary throughout the year
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.
The Bell Museum of Natural History
2088 Larpenteur Avenue West, Saint Paul, MN, USA
When: Daily 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Cost: Ages 21-64: $12; 65+: $10; 3-21 $9; Under 3: Free
Details: The newly 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.
Hands-On Science At Home
We’ve recently found two alternatives to those expensive subscription boxes that could keep a family happily occupied with STEM activities all year long!
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.
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 download.
3M offers these (somewhat product-heavy) ideas for Creating a STEM-friendly home environment.
For more fun hands-on science activities, Gianna has found some great activities you can try at home:
More to Look Forward to Throughout the Year!
- Cool Chemistry. For girls in grades 7-8 features interactive workshops, chemistry “tricks,” and new skills. (TBA Spring)
- Public Lectures—College of Science and Engineering. For grades 9-12. Public lectures on scientific discoveries – Next Lecture: Tuesday, April 7, 2020
- 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. (Dates for the May 2020 shows May 18-22..)
- Public telescope viewings. All ages. Presentation followed by outdoor observing. (Fridays during the Spring and Fall Semester!)
- Robot show. All ages. Public show featuring robots built by 200+ engineering students (Each December).
- Universe in the Park (Weekends all summer)
- Physics Force Show. • Northrop Auditorium • Physicists demonstrate their science with crazy stunts. The shows are free but reservations are required. Register here. Next Show: May 13-14, 2020 in Rochester.
Signature Events at the Works Museum
The Works Museum has three 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.
February • Tech Fest • Featuring kid-friendly demos of emerging technology and activities led by scientists, engineers, and educators.
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,
September • Girl Time • This event features women engineers and women in other STEM-oriented careers. This event is aimed at girls, but boys are welcome.