STEM Fun: 6 Places for Hands-On Science with Kids in the Twin Cities

Collage of Kids learning through hands-on science in the Twin Cities, Minnesota

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: $3-$5/pp
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.

Hands-On Science at Gabbert Raptor Center
Gabbert Raptor Center

2. Bakken Museum

Address: 3537 Zenith Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55416
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10am-5pm
Cost: $11/adults, $6/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.

Learning About Electricity at Bakken Museum

3. The Works Museum

Address: 9740 Grand Ave, Bloomington, MN 55420
When: Open Monday & Thursday-Saturday. (Hours change with the school year) THE MUSEUM IS CURRENTLY UNDER A TOTAL RENOVATION AND HOPES TO RE-OPEN IN FEBRUARY OF 2023.
Cost: $11/pp
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: $14.95-$19.95 (additional for Omni-Theatre; 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.

Window Games at Carl Kroening Interpretive Center

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

Throughout the year, kids are invited to a variety of one-time outreach events that are created to help spark and increase interest in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Note that all of these events are dependent on the UofM being open. Some of these events require pre-registration:
Public Energy and U Show. For grades 3-8 - University of Minnesota College of Science & Engineering
Public Energy and U Show
  • Physics Force Show • Northrop Auditorium • Physicists demonstrate their science with crazy stunts. The shows are $3/pp (Free for kids under 10) and reservations are required. 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 all summer)
Physics Force
Physics Force

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.  Look for this in the spring of 2023.

AprilRobot 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.

Boy testing creation during Amusement Park Camp at The Works Museum in Bloomington, Minnesota
Image courtesy of the Works

Hands-On Science and STEM Fun At Home

  1. 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.
  2. Learn Natural Sciences by Getting Out Into Nature: 65+ Fun Nature Play Ideas for Kids
  3. Gianna has gathered some fun Science Activities for Kids.
  4. Check out one of the Kitchen Pantry Scientist books by Minnesota’s Liz Heinecke.
  5. The Minnesota Academy of Science’s Stem From Home page offers a variety of resources and experiments to try at home.
  6. MNDOT has STEM activities for K-12, including bridge building activities, games, geometry.  This is a really fun site – who would have thought?
  7. 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!
Hands-On Science Activities for Kids
Find More  STEM Fun Here

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