Lessons and classrooms may spring to mind when science is mentioned to children, but there are many area organizations that focus on making the many different physical-world studies a fun and interactive experience for all ages.
Here are 10 places to take the kids for some edifying scientific entertainment.
Wings and native Nevadan crawling things aplenty can be experienced in this butterfly house and science center located in Lemmon Valley. Now through September 9, get up close and personal with insects, caterpillars, butterflies and plant life, or take part in science activities led by biologists and site tours. The center is open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.
Two hours of hands-on science exploration will be had on Sept. 23 at Bartley Ranch Regional Park during Sierra Nevada Journeys ScienceFest, presented by Western Environmental Testing Laboratory. Science, technology, engineering and math stations to explore with the kids will feature at the park, along with food trucks, face painting and a photo booth hosting a “Dress as your Favorite Scientist” contest. The event is free to the public, with online preregistration required here.
Recently, an interactive exhibit for the aeronautically inclined became a regular feature at the National Automobile Museum. Verified by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “Be the Astronaut” uses state-of-the-art technology including flight simulators, touch screens, large-scale monitors and real NASA data to take visitors of all ages on an authentic feeling space mission. Children and adults aged eight years and older can also take part in space-themed Science Saturdays on the second Saturday of each month at the museum from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Below the activity- and exhibit-rich main floor of the Carson City museum that encourages playful education is a basement wonderland of STEM learning. Build bridges, learn to grow vegetables, identify clouds and much more in the STEM Room. Adults and children can also sign up for science workshops on many different topics like anatomy or mining.
Since 1963, the planetarium on the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) grounds has used its 10-meter dome to take visitors on projected virtual tours of meteorological and universal phenomena. Recently updated with an ultra-high-tech, 3-D projector, educational and entertaining shows running daily look the best they ever have. Make sure to head to the immersive exhibit hall while you're there to get the full planetarium experience.
A 42-foot-long T. Rex named Sue makes an exhilarating welcoming committee at the Discovery Museum through January 2018. Paleontology can be explored through the life-sized skeleton cast along with several neighboring hands-on exhibits. Other scientific topics can be delved into at Science Distilled, a periodic social lecture series put on in partnership with the Desert Research Institute, with the next one coming up on Aug. 16.
Rockhounds can get some in-depth education at Nevada’s oldest geology museum, located at UNR’s MacKay School of Mines. From fossils to photos, the museum exhibits will escort visitors on a tour of Nevada’s rich mining history, with actual samples from the Comstock Lode and other notable state mineral discoveries on display.
Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and the city of Reno partnered to create an interactive garden in Idlewild Park, with five individual beds that appeal to each respective human sense. The free Sensory Garden near the Idlewild Train teaches about sight, smell, sound, taste and touch through nature, and how things grow and affect each other in a living landscape.
Observing wild animals offers a firsthand biology lesson for any age group. Set on 38 acres north of Reno, Animal Ark is home to wildlife that can’t be released back into their homeland, usually due to injury or abandonment. Enclosures are built to emulate the animals’ native habitat, and activities that simulate their natural behavior in the wild and help them avoid boredom also provide authentic, educational entertainment for the public. Ecology education is provided to thousands of people each year through special programming and tours.
At the current exhibition running through Oct. 29, Sherlock Holmes and the Clocktower Mystery, investigate the science of deduction. Take an old-time twist on crime scene investigation, where all ages can hone their sleuthing skills in staged rooms filled with authentic period pieces, sounds and smells. Victorian London comes to life while visitors look for clues, watch out for red herrings and try to solve the mystery. Afterwards, peruse man-of-the-world Wilbur D. May’s collection — which ranges from shrunken heads to Egyptian scarabs — from his global travels.