Where The Science Is… this Holiday season.

Christmas balls in shape the molecule

Happy Holidays folks! So with the kids out of school in a few days and home for about a couple of weeks, what to do?!  Well with Homeland wrapping up its season this weekend, you could binge watch The Fall or re-binge FNL but none of those are kid-friendly so how about you head out and do some science-y stuff!

Winter is a perfect time to explore science centered events around you since it is usually too cold for outside activities. A lot of places are implementing cool science activities into holiday celebrations – code your own holiday e-greeting card, make a light-up greeting card using paper circuits, toy hacking, gingerbread city engineering, create a winter wonderland complete with glowing snow globe, and so many others. There’s also Elf Day and nanoscience?! Whooott?! 🙂 There is also regular, year-round, fun places to visit – Check out the list below.

KID Museum – But of course! This weekend promises some great science fun. Some of featured events include coding your own e-greeting card using Scratch, make holiday cards or other paper gifts that light up using paper circuits, and an introduction to programming high-tech digital music lab equipment and recording your own music. These featured events are free with admission but registration is required. Go here to register. The regular stations and activities will also be available.

Maryland Science Center – The Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, MD event calendar is chock full of science-holiday fun the rest of the month! Most of these events are free with admission. Of particular interest is Elf Day with nanoscience, ginger bread city building, and toy hacking. Check out the December activities – Choose Wisely!

Robinson Nature Center – This little gem is one of my go-to indoor places. Located in Columbia, MD and equipped with a digital planetarium, the Robinson Nature Center is a fun place to visit any time of the year. Watch a movie in the dome, enjoy star story telling about our constellations, and star gazing (weather permitting). Most of their special presentations require registration and a nominal fee. General admission is $5 for adults and $3 for kids (under 3 is free).

Trains, Trains and Mo’ Trains – What’s with the holidays and trains anyway? There are lots of model trains and city exhibits to take in during the holidays. It allows you to appreciate the level of civil engineering that goes into the planning and construction of infrastructure. Check out the U.S. Botanic Garden for their yearly display and while you are at it take in some botany. Union Station has an excellent display and you can get in some Christmas shopping as well. College Park Aviation Museum with its miniature trains, villages, tunnels and depots is a lot of fun. This is likely to be the less crowded and tamer of the three. Free with admission – admission is $4 for adults $2 for children. This museum has a small display of planes for exploration. Kids can try on aviation gear and take in some aviation history; it is also an excellent play time. Note that this closes December 20. Other places with train displays are the B & O Museum in Baltimore and Ellicott City – both will have other holiday activities as well; and the Greenberg Train and Toy show at the Dulles Expo Center.

Museums – I looovvveee the National Air and Space Museums. While they do not have holiday specific activities, this is an excellent time to visit or re-visit both the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA and the one in DC. You skip the summer crowd and get to take your time exploring all the goodies within. Both have lots of activities for kids and adults can catch a fantastic film in the IMAX theatres. In addition, there is the Smithsonian Tech Quest, an alternative reality game at the Udvar-Hazy Center that “will test your powers of observation, your problem-solving skills, and your decision-making abilities as you take on the role of an Intelligence Analyst. The game engages visitors through hands-on activities, interesting artifacts, and secret codes to locate a missing aircraft, recover the secret technology, and rescue the downed pilots.” It is aimed at kids 10 and above and but sounds like a lot of fun for adults as well!

Other great museums to explore are the National Building Museum complete with the hands on building zone, and the National Museum of Natural History with dinosaurs to boot!

So this is a lot of information and options to take in. I would pick one or two that is convenient or none if things get too crazy – no worries, this list will be here for reference! 🙂 If you do go, leave a comment will you? I will love to hear about your experiences.

Wishing you and yours a restful and fun holiday! See you in 2015.

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