Science becomes a hands-on learning adventure at the Liberty Science Center (LSC) in Jersey City, N.J. About an hour’s drive from Southern Westchester, the LSC is easily recognizable with its cool IMAX dome structure. Once you park (for a fee), head inside and choose your admission ticket. I bought Combination Passes for myself, my husband, and our two kids because it allowed us to choose an IMAX film in addition to seeing nearly every exhibit.
What You’ll See
The first thing that caught our eye at LSC was the Hoberman Sphere. You can’t miss it, just look up as you head toward the exhibit areas! Thanks to the scissor-like actions of its joints, the 700-pound metal globe structure expands and contracts dozens of times throughout the day. It’s mesmerizing to watch.
After admiring the sphere, we headed to the second floor to see the IMAX film Extreme Weather. But fair warning – this is not your ordinary IMAX experience. The movie is shown on a domed screen that’s 88 feet in diameter. The theater is not for the faint of heart (just walking to my seat got my stomach doing some flips), but the picture quality and sound is pretty awesome. Our film made us feel as if we were inside a tornado, on the frontlines of a wildfire, and watching glaciers melt in Alaska.
Next we went into extreme darkness via the “Touch Tunnel” on the third floor. where the object is to crawl your way through the 80-foot, pitch-black tunnel using only your sense of touch. This was a little challenging for my 5-year-old son, who ended up navigating the tunnel on my husband’s back!
There’s another opportunity for physical exploration on the 3rd floor and in the light this time. “The Infinity Climber”, a multi-story play space, is suspended above LSC’s atrium. Climbers have multiple routes to choose from as they make their way along 64 platforms anchored to huge curved steel pipes.
Once you’ve had your fill of climbing and crawling, you can check out some of the comprehensive exhibits that feature all kinds of hands-on experiences for kids. In “Communication”, the way we speak, hear, write and express ourselves is dissected. My 9-year-old daughter really enjoyed the graffiti area where she used digital “spray paint” to make some art.
In “Infection Connection”, kids learn about germs, how they are spread, and how the body fights them (plus how to stay healthy in the first place). In “Energy Quest”, kids are exposed to all different kinds of energy from wind to wave to solar and learn how we use them in our daily lives. My kids really enjoyed the solar-powered slot cars and powering various objects by riding on stationary bikes.
There are also opportunities to see different kinds of animals at LSC. In “Eat and Be Eaten”, we spotted red-footed tortoises, an alligator snapping turtle, various snakes, and scorpions. In “Our Hudson Home”, we saw fish, horseshoe crabs, and got to touch a starfish and an oyster in the touch tank.
For the littlest visitors, there is a dedicated area called “I Explore” (for ages 5 and under). This space has a place to climb, an air maze that carries squishy balls through transparent tubes, a two-story ball machine, and other activities.
This month, a new attraction based on a popular Discovery Channel series is sure to wow guests. “MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition” opens on Feb. 18 and features interactive experiences and live demonstrations, introducing visitors to myths, the Mythbusters and how to conduct an experiment. Topics such as flight, friction, gravity, speed and combustion will be tested.
Around every nook and cranny of LSC there is something new to discover and different ways for kids to become immersed in science. The great thing is most won’t even realize they are learning – they’ll think they are playing and having fun.
Andrea White is a Westchester-based freelance writer who was thrilled to expose her family to the fun of science.
When You Go …
Liberty Science Center
Liberty State Park
222 Jersey City Boulevard
Jersey City, N.J.
Tuesday-Friday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Closed Mondays, except Presidents Day, Feb 20.
Extended hours (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) for Presidents Weekend Feb. 17-20.
Science Center Only: $17.75 children; $21.75 adults. Combination Pass (the Center plus IMAX, 3D, or Premium Exhibition): $22.75 children; $27.75 adults. Premium Pass (Center plus IMAX or 3D and premium Exhibition): $25.75 children; $31.75 adults.
Parking fee: $7
Children under 2 are admitted free. Strollers are permitted in most areas of the center and there is a private nursing room.
Cafe Skylines on the 2nd floor offers sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, mac ‘n cheese, and other kid-friendly foods available for purchase along with drinks and desserts.