The science of child's play

Science Center Kids Room is devoted to learning

Family

August 04, 2005|By Lori Sears | Lori Sears,SUN STAFF

Making learning fun is no easy feat. But the Maryland Science Center has made a science of it.

In addition to the science center's many educational exhibits, programs, IMAX films and planetarium shows, the center's Kids Room is a place for the younger set to have some fun while learning about science.

"The Kids Room is a 5,000- square-foot space that contains hands-on exhibits focused on early childhood - for children [up to] 8 and their families," says Stacey Prinzing, Kids Room manager. "We have lots of activities and exhibits that are all designed on the idea that kids learn best through play."

The Kids Room has more than 50 interactive learning activities and hands-on exhibits, including a water area with waterfalls, water wheels, dams, dikes and drains; a re-created fireboat, submarine control room, lighthouse and fishing pier; a pneumatic tube, through which kids can send messages, just like at the bank drive-through station; a "green screen" area where kids can watch themselves on a monitor as they pretend they are walking in space, swimming with dolphins and flying with bees.

Attached to the main room is a smaller space in back that the staff calls the "learning lab." Much like a classroom, the lab allows kids to create science projects and experiments.

Visitors to the Kids Room can enjoy the hands-on activities and exhibits year-round, as well as take part in monthly programs.

Through hot August, the Kids Room is the cool place to be for walk-in activities.

Today and Aug. 18 at 11 a.m., the Kids Room presents its Infant Storytime with music, songs and stories for ages up to 18 months. The event, often led by Prinzing or one of her staff, including several early-childhood educators, always includes sensory experiences for the little ones.

On Aug. 14 at 2 p.m., visitors up to age 8 can take part in the Super Science Sunday "Opposites Attract" program. Kids can learn about magnetism and the mysteries of how magnets attract and repel. There will be hands-on experiments, crafts and a take-home sheet that lists further activities and more information.

"We always provide [visitors] with take-home papers, so that parents can extend the learning," says Prinzing.

On Aug. 21 at 2 p.m., the Super Science Sunday program is "The Science of Fizz." Kids up to age 8 will learn how acids and bases interact through hands-on experiments.

On Aug. 28 at 2 p.m., kids can attend "What Comes In, Must Go Out," which explains the process of digestion. And what kid isn't engrossed by that? Kids will participate in activities that simulate digestion.

"They'll have kids move a marble through a plastic tube, and talk about how food moves through your body," explains Prinzing. "And they'll put a vanilla wafer in a plastic bag and have kids crush it up [to show] how the muscles in your stomach work."

The Kids Room also hosts Preschool Storytime every Tuesday and Friday. Stories, songs and science activities on everything from outer space to crustaceans will be presented each Tuesday at 11 a.m. and each Friday at 2 p.m.

All children in the Kids Room must be accompanied by a chaperone.

The Maryland Science Center is at 601 Light St. Kids Room hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. Admission to the Kids Room is free with paid admission to the science center, which is $14.50; $13.50 seniors; $10 ages 3-12. Call 410-685-5225 or visit www.marylandscience center.org.

For more family events, see Page 36.

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