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 Through December 6, 2019 • Public telescope viewings • 8pm • UM Astrophysics • All ages. This FREE program includes a presentation followed by outdoor observing. See the Fall Semester Schedule below:
- 12/06/2019 TBD
Friday, December 6, 2019 • December Star Party: Apollo’s Last Landing • 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, December 7, 2019 • First Saturday Science • 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.
Saturday, December 7, 2019 • Discovery Days: Coding • 11am-3pm • The Bakken • Try your hand at using code to control robotic creatures, program a light show, and create music. Included with Regular Admission – $8-$12/pp
Monday, December 9, 2019 • Robot show • 2:40pm-4:30pm • McNamara Alumni Center • All ages. Public show featuring robots built by more than 200 engineering students. FREE.
Saturday, December 14, 2019 • Spotlight Science: Plant Love/Hate Stories • 11am-3pm • Bell Museum • Live storytelling event featuring plant love stories and a drop-in activity where you can contribute your own story. Included with Regular Admission – $9-$12/pp.
Sunday, December 15, 2019 • Solar Sunday • 12pm-2pm • Bell Museum • Use a variety of our solar telescopes on the observation deck for safe solar viewing, plus hands-on interactive activities to better understand the Sun. Included with Regular Admission – $9-$12/pp.
Sunday, December 15, 2019 • Curious George: Let’s Get Curious – FREE Third Sunday • 9am-5pm • Minnesota Children’s Museum • Kids will engage in STEM activities modeled after Curious George’s own adventures in this fun exhibit. Included with Regular Admission Sept. 28 – Jan. 5. FREE on Third Sundays.
Thursday, December 26, 2019 – Sunday December 29, 2019 • December Discovery Days: Winter Weekend • Bell Museum • Science-related family fun for the long weekend. Included with Regular Admission – $9-$12/pp.
Sunday, December 29, 2019 • December Story Time: Georgia’s Terrific, Colorific Experiment, by Zoe Persico • 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.
Saturday, January 25, 2020 • Family Zoo Adventure: Penguin Party! • 1pm-3pm • Minnesota Zoo • Peek at the penguin kitchen, touch penguin eggs and feathers, and learn all about our penguins of the African coast. • Register Online: $50/adult-child pair; $25 additional family members.
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!
- Physics Force Show. Physicists demonstrate their science with crazy stunts. (Northrop on January 13-18, 2020). The shows are free but reservations are required. Register here.
- 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 January 2020 shows are Jan. 9 & 10, and Jan. 13-17. Shows will be at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. 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 more than 200 engineering students
- Universe in the Park (Weekends all summer)