Oklahoma City family fun is always changing. Seeing something new can be a great family experience for adults too.
One of my favorite posts we’ve featured recently on MetroFamily’s Facebook page was “My favorite thing about being a parent is _________________.” I didn’t answer the fill-in-the-blank. That implied question did make me think, pause, wonder. Wonder. That’s it. The wonder. Their wonder, at everything new and beautiful and different. That curiosity and the joy of discovery is my answer.
It’s why I have 7,000 photos in my iPhone and I know I’m not the only one.
My family and I go out a lot. Frequently. I see the wonder. It isn’t uncommon. And yet, I wasn’t prepared for the level of engagement, interaction, hands-on fun Science Museum Oklahoma’s new CurioCity permanent exhibition offers.
I added another 200 photos to my phone during our visit to the grand opening.
If you’re thinking about a trip to the Science Museum, I can confirm you won’t be disappointed.
Four reasons why CurioCity stands out
Never mind the age gap: My sons are 8, 3 and 5 months. It isn’t every venue that they can enjoy all together. There are eight separate areas of the exhibition that appeal to children of different ages. CurioCity has it covered. Age-appropriate sections are literally around every corner. We spent three hours at the exhibition and could have easily made a day of it. Boredom was nowhere in sight.
Babies are welcome: See above but bonus points for the nicest lactation facility and family restroom I’ve ever seen. Soft armchairs, purposeful paintings in black, white and primary colors, Diaper Genies stationed at each changer all send a message: the reality of going out with little ones isn’t a problem at Science Museum Oklahoma. That consideration carries over to the exhibitions too. There’s even a water area in the Wunderground with supported seats just for infants where Gabriel was able to sit and experience a fountain. Babies/toddlers age 2 and under are admitted without charge, which is also a plus to encourage family visits.
Hands-on experiences: Encouraging creativity is every parent’s challenge, I think. The exhibition takes everyday objects and gives them unexpected uses that challenge us to think of them differently, like in the Riffs & Rhythms section isn’t just instruments. There’s a piano and a guitar but there are also saws, baking sheets, washboards and other unusual improvised instruments to play. An area dedicated to paper airplane folding, complete with a mechanical launch, is another example of how the ordinary is made extraordinary by allowing kids to be creative. I didn’t see a single placard requesting that we not touch, be quiet or otherwise keep the fun in check. Kids learn by doing and CurioCity lets them.
Meaningful variety: We hear a lot these days about helping your child find his or her passion. CurioCity gives parents a chance to stand back and see what their child gravitates toward. Tinker Works with its mechanical themes? Pi Shop with its patterns and human kaleidoscope? BrainiAct’s puppet show and theatres? Play matters and this isn’t the dizzying, stylized and gimmicky kind that kiddie-themed attractions sometimes have.
Four tips for your visit to CurioCity
Plan on water play: The Wunderground area features water experiments, sand and pebbles. There’s an electric heat lamp-style dryer where you can swipe a credit card to help kids get dry quickly but a change of clothes would have been the better choice for my baby and toddler. Wear easy on/off sandals that you don’t mind getting wet and to avoid “Mom, there’s a rock in my shoe!”
Accompany your little ones: Know that CurioCity isn’t a quiet museum tour. Prepare to run around, bend, play and have a great time alongside your child. Younger kids especially need some guidance with taking turns, explaining the equipment and how different features work. Keep tabs on your toddler and plan to interact with him or her throughout. I kicked off my kitten heels to go into the Odd-a-See Tower and cross a rope bridge with Isaac; he was a little afraid of the large structure’s maze-like interior. If claustrophobia is a problem for you, you might want to send in an older sibling or a family member who feels more comfortable.
Make the most of character actors: There’s a full-time cast of characters unique to each of the eight areas, from pirates to mountain climbers. Let your older children ask questions and guide you through. They’ll also help you pace the visit so that your group isn’t over-stimulated.
Come with time to spare: I wouldn’t plan on spending less than two hours at CurioCity because there’s so much to see and do. My children would have happily toured the rest of Science Museum Oklahoma as well. It’s a day trip, not just a quick outing.
I really didn’t expect to have the great time that I did at CurioCity. My sons were equally thrilled.
Why? That sense of wonder.
It wasn’t predictable.
Sam has been in robotics camp this summer but his participation doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be an engineer or a scientist. I’m okay with the fact that he doesn’t know yet he wants to be he grows up. No one has to have if all figured out at age 5 or 8 or 12. I don’t think that makes him more likely to check the Major: Undecided box at 18. What I know for certain is that he’ll be in third grade this fall. That is enough for now.
Exhibitions like these encourage kids to think beyond what’s expected, already known, seen, done.
I’m hoping they spark ideas, interests and fields we couldn’t even imagine possible.
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