Don’t you think children are such sponges for learning? Luckily, there are so many places where we can take them where they can observe the world and its wonderful creatures. I’m talking about marinas, zoos, aquariums as well as centers for space, technology, and innovation. When we find ourselves in a city with something educational as well as fun to visit, we do try to check them out. My kids especially like seeing the live animals up close!
Here are some science-themed places that are great for kids and grown-ups alike that we’ve discovered recently and really loved:
Norway’s The Polaria
This arctic aquarium and educational center shows visitors what the exotic, freezing Nordic North is really like. Located in Tromsø, in Northern Norway, this is the world’s northernmost aquarium.
The Polaria‘s main attraction is a large pool where you can get remarkably close to large bearded seals via viewing bubbles in the tank wall. There is also an Arctic aquarium with rare specimens of coldwater fish and other arctic marine life from the area as well as other knowledge-based exhibits and installations that will surely broaden the kids’ understanding of the world.
They have a huge, panoramic cinema where we watched a highly informative video about the Northern Lights. We also went on the “Arctic Walkway” and saw displays of polar exploration and simulated permafrost.
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (Washington DC)
During our last visit to Washington DC, we took our boys to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum as a special treat.
This is the most visited museum in the US (along with its second location in Virgina) and the fifth most visited in the world!
It contains the largest and most significant collection of aviation and space artifacts. It collects, preserves, studies, and exhibits artifacts, archival materials, and works of art related to the history, culture, and science of aviation and spaceflight and the study of the universe. We saw some of the most famous icons of flight: the original Wright Plane, the Apollo 11, and a “touchable” rock from the moon!
The museum also has a lot of interactive exhibits, several iMax movies, planetarium shows, and flight simulators. You definitely need more than one day to see them all.
If you have time to spare, there are a ton of activities and programs designed especially for families and kids. Check them out here.
Click this link to see more of what we saw in our last trip: Washington DC’s iconic monuments.
The Osaka Aquarium or Kaiyukan
This is one of the most spectacular aquariums in Japan. It showcases various forms of marine life via 15 tanks, each tank representing a specific region of the Pacific Rim.
The central tank, representing the Pacific Ocean, is nine meters deep and home to a whale shark, the aquarium’s main attraction.
424 Ishikawa, Okinawa Memorial Park Ocean Expo Park, Kunigami-gun, Motobu-cho 905-0206, Okinawa Prefecture
Phone: +81 980-48-2741
Tokyo’s Aqua Park Shinagawa
The Aqua Park Shinagawa (formerly the EPSON Shinagawa Aqua Stadium) is a small indoor park with a huge aquarium. It may be very compact, but the facility houses over 300 species and about 20 specimens of marine animals.
Among the attractions are a merry-go-round with LED lights covering the walls and a touch panel tank, a tank illuminated by luminescent coral, the “Wonder Tube” with rare sawfish and manta rays, and the “Wild Street” where you can observe penguins, seals, and otters.
For our kids, however, the dolphin show was wonderfully choreographed and the biggest hit!
Aqua Park Shinagawa
4-10-30 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8611 (within Shinagawa Prince Hotel)
Phone: 03-5421-1111 (voice guidance in Japanese only)
California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium is dedicated to marine research and conservation.
Here, we encountered hundreds of species including the Giant Pacific Octopus, penguins, and a giant sea turtle. My kids especially enjoyed seeing stingrays, jellyfish and sea otters.
The sea otter is actually the aquarium’s “favorite mascot” and you can see for yourself how these cute creatures interact with each other and their respective audience. Look at how amazing this place is![iframe id=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/dcMdvL_3Tq8″]
There are also interactive exhibits of marine life presented on a truly grand scale, such as a 360-degree video projection takes you far below the ocean’s surface, where amazing animals inhabit the dark, cold depths.