A visit to Science Museum Oklahoma was on my three kids’ summer bucket list, especially after more than a year away. We loved all the programs and activities SMO At Home provided during the height of the pandemic, and continues to provide for families, but we were eager to get back to one of our favorite metro museums in real life! One of my favorite things about this museum is that each visit is so different, with plenty to see and do for kids and adults alike. Here are the nine reasons we suggest putting SMO on your must-visit list before summer’s over!
- Play indoors when the temps are soaring. SMO is home to my crew’s favorite indoor playground in OKC. Curiocity features eight whimsical sections, each exploring a scientific concept in a creative way, and, above all, encouraging learning through play. The Odd-A-See Tower is always the favorite stop, and every time I think my 9-year-old might have outgrown it, she’s the first one to rush to explore the huge, two-story play space. In fact, I’m usually drawn in to climb through the unusual towers and tunnels, going up and down oddly-shaped steps, manning the cockpit of an airplane at the very top (don’t look down!) or exploring the variety of cause-and-effect activities throughout. The Hands & Feats carnival section helps kids consider all the ways their bodies move and contribute to their wellness, Riffs & Rhythms encourages them to rock out and Wunderground provides a dino dig and water play.
- But don’t miss the “secret” outdoor space! I didn’t realize until just a few years ago that SMO includes a beautiful garden, complete with native plants and flowers, a meandering walking trail, greenhouses and mini excavators to maneuver, a must-do for my three no matter the weather.
- Encourage learning without your kids even realizing it. I’ll admit: I’m often the summer mom who requires set reading time each day, the practicing of math facts and continued learning. But after the last year of a lot of virtual school (for all four of us!), I decided we needed a break! So I’m extra appreciative of learning opportunities like SMO that are fun, engaging and exciting for my kids. New (to us) on the Science Floor during this visit were lessons about topography and erosion with hands-on activities. Other top spots include learning about simple machines in GadgetTrees, exploring the history of aviation and trains and seeing the collection of artifacts in Destination Space.
- Learn to drive … a Segway, that is! This will be an impressive fun fact for your child to share at their first morning meeting or lunch in the cafeteria — and it’s a fun activity for any age. Driving the Segway course is a must-do for my three on each visit, with the first lap around the basic track and the second taking them through some small obstacles, like over a small bridge and through a swinging gate. Masks are currently required for all riders and the Segway is sanitized between riders.
- Experience Oklahoma’s weather. Maybe your kids are like mine and get extra clingy or nervous during severe weather season. Eye on the Sky has been a really helpful spot for my kids to better understand the science behind extreme weather and remove some of the fear and uncertainty. They love making cloud rings and fog, experiencing high winds in the tornado tube and even practicing being a meteorologist.
- Spectacular shows. Both the Kirkpatrick Planetarium and Science Live offer incredible interactive shows daily, both included in admission. Check out the planetarium for a relaxing look at the night sky and outer space, or head to Science Live for high-energy, explosive fun. Mini versions of Science Live also occur several times daily on the Science Floor.
- Catch the current temporary exhibits before they close Sept. 6. Sherlock Holmes: The Exhibition and Worse Case Scenario: Survival Experience are highly interactive and perfect for families to enjoy together.In the Sherlock exhibit, guests get to solve a mystery by discovering and interpreting clues, all while being transported back to London during the time when Holmes’ methods were new and groundbreaking. In Worst Case Scenario, guests are presented with unexpected but real-life scenarios, like leaping from a moving train, landing a plane or outsmarting a mountain lion. Get the essential instructions but then figure out how you would survive! Additional tickets are required for all guests.
- Take advantage of membership specials through July. We took advantage of the museum’s July membership special to renew our family membership. When you renew during the month of July, you can add an extra person to your membership to enjoy free admission and all the perks for a full year! So you can get three people on a Silver 2 membership or seven people on the Silver 6 membership (which was perfect for us so we could add grandparents!) I love that as part of your membership benefits you also get two or six, respectively, one-time use passes for friends or family.
- Remember what it feels like to be a kid. Whether you grew up in OKC like me and have fond memories of visiting the “Omniplex” as SMO used to be called or have memories at a similar museum, the space always provides a sense of nostalgia as I find myself delighting in the activities just as much as my kids. Experiencing SMO with kids definitely serves to revive their grown-ups’ curiosity, imagination and sense of wonder, too. And it reinforces for my kids the value of being a life-long learner: even their 38-year-old mom still has more to learn, and I enjoy the process!
Bonus! See the new sculpture Finity 2020 outside the main entrance. Created by world-renowned artist Tom Shannon, the statue is made up of five shapes, stacked on top of each other, and stands 25 feet tall.
Find out more about Science Museum Oklahoma’s current hours, admission prices and safety protocols here. Happy exploration!
Erin Page is managing editor of MetroFamily Magazine, an award-winning writer, a lifelong resident of OKC, wife to Jordan and mom to Addie, Hutch and Weston. She enjoys running, cooking and hiding from her kids to eat chocolate.