A visit to Science Museum Oklahoma is always on my three kids’ summer bucket list. 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 10-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. 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 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.
- 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.
- Get creative. Science Museum Oklahoma is like one big makerspace inspiring visitor creativity, problem solving and trial and error — but the Tinkering Garage, located in the center of the museum, is the perfect place for hands-on fun for kids who love STEAM. Or check out Tinker Works, a neighborhood garage in Curiocity, designed for young kids. In each of the makerspaces, activities change regularly to engage kids with a variety of STEAM experiences such as animation, puppetry, robotics, plastic fusion, snap circuits and even something called automata, which are mechanical toys driven by crankshafts.
- Snag a membership to keep the fun going all year. Enjoy unlimited free admission plus other perks like exclusive access to events and programs and discounts on food and in the Science Shop for a full year! I love that as part of your membership benefits you also get several 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 39-year-old mom still has more to learn, and I enjoy the process!
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 exploring our city, cooking and hiding from her kids to eat chocolate.