One of the best museums in New Jersey is the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. Having a science theme, it attracts more children of school age, who can learn a lot about physics, chemistry and more through interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments. But it’s also a lot of fun for younger kids! I visited it this spring with my 3 1/2-year old Colin, and he had a blast. There’s so much to do for the little ones, and what better way to get them interested in science? So in this review I’ll try to focus only on what can you do at the Liberty Science Center with a 3-4 year old.
As you enter, on your left is the Skyscraper Exhibition. It focuses on the physics of building high-rises, but they key word here is building. Little kids will love the building stuff. There’s a mini-digger that they can operate to move dirt around, and it has very easy command levers for them. There’s also the crane, which they can maneuver to move magnetic blocks. For kids even younger than 3 there’s an area where they can get creative with blocks and build their own skyscraper. And as soon as your kid is 40″ tall, he can try to walk the steel beam, with a very secure harness.
Going up one floor, I Explore is the specially designated area for toddlers. Kids as young as 2 can have fun here with very simple physics exhibits. There’s the incline where they can build and test simple vehicles; the ball launching machine where they build up pressure to launch the ball and then watch gravity take it down through a maze, why they can alter the course with a series of levers; the big xylophone; a sand play area, and much more. Also on the second floor there’s a well-stocked cafe, and the Imax Theater, where unfortunately we didn’t go.
On the third floor, The Touch Tunnel and Infection Connection are meant for older kids, but young ones will enjoy Eat and Be Eaten where various animal habitats are visible through large windows. Here they’ll find a big fish tank, tamarin monkeys, all sorts of lizards and snakes, frog, spiders and more.
Also there it’s the Wonder Why Exhibition which is more like a play area for kids of all ages. They can climb a wall, create giant bubbles, balance a ball an a stream of air and play with lots of puzzle-type games.
The 4th Floor exhibits were where Colin had the most fun. Mainly in Energy Quest, where physics experiments require at least school age to fully understand them, but they’re very interactive so 3-4 year olds will love playing with them and trying to figure out what’s going on. Nothing is more fun for them than racing the cars on the big track, where the solar cars’ speed is determined by how much of a solar panel they expose. Of course, they’ll keep going full speed but you can show them how they go when the light hits the control pad, and they stop when you cover it. At the Tidal Station they can open and close valves to send water into a turbine and make it spin, and then watch the power meter go up. Kids can also “play” a puzzle where their probe has to drill for oil. And the big vacuum can send “wind” out to put a lot of devices in motion.
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