I am a little ashamed to admit this, but until recently, I was unaware that the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) even existed. It wasn’t until COSI on Wheels came to my kids school that I not only realized that this incredible facility exists so close to home, but how much I absolutely love their approach to education.
Located in Columbus, COSI is only about an hour drive away from Dayton, which makes it an easy day trip and one I think everyone should make at least once. I also would argue that there are many reasons why a Dayton family would benefit from an annual membership, but more on that in a minute.
Top 6 favorite things about COSI:
- Everything is interactive. As a child development professional, I am a huge proponent of using play to help children learn. COSI does this and does it well. No matter where you go or what you are exploring, the exhibits will be hands on and encourage your kids to touch and interact. As a parent, I loved that I could get right in there with my kids and experiment and explore alongside them. They do an amazing job introducing concepts such as force, polarization, etc… and then have an interactive component to reinforce those concepts. This is what all children’s museums should be like.
- They use all of their space and they use it well. COSI is huge. We did not even come close to exploring everything in this facility. In truth, we had a hard time even getting into the actual exhibits… and that is a good thing. The hallways are full of their own little exhibits as well as some very friendly COSI staff introducing additional encounters. Folks, I even let a tarantula touch my fingertip and I HATE spiders. The young girl holding it was just that good. In addition to all of the hallway activity, they have also set up a Big Science Park to bring the museum outdoors into that space as well. They even had some banners encouraging families to visually explore the constuction site adjacent to the museum to look for diggers and other machines at work. That is capitalizing on opportunity right there!
- The Electo-static Generator Show. My husband tells me that this is the “iconic” show of COSI. I will take his word for it, but I do agree that it was pretty cool. Again it was an engaging way to involve the families in a science lesson. My oldest certainly loved being part of the show.
- The Planetarium. If you have a space obsessed kid like I do, you will want to put this on your list for sure. The largest planetarium in Ohio, they offer several shows throughout the day. We saw a very kid friendly sky scavenger hunt that once again encouraged interaction between the COSI “sky commander” and the audience. Both girls said this was their favorite part of he day and I think a lot of it had to do with feeling like they were part of the show rather than just watching it. Fun Fact: COSI will have an entire space experience this Summer called Cosmic Summer.
- Gadgets Area. If we had more time, I would have settled in here for much longer than we were able to. Located in the Second floor, this section has the makings of a perfect afternoon. There was a great mix of more complex activities for my oldest and some simple ones to captivate my youngest.
- Little Kids Space. The Little Kids Space is specifically designed for the littlest little and I fell in love . There clinic was not only fun and engaging, but educational as well. I love how the spaces, such as the eye doctors and urgent care were designed to help lessen fears in this age group about going to the doctor.
Top 5 Lessons Learned:
- Plan ahead. I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself in to and I had not done a ton of research. Because of this, we didn’t know what our priorities for the day were or the best plan to navigate our way through. For the record, by recommendation would be to check out the early showing of the Electrostatic Generator Show on the main floor and then head up to floor 2 and work your way down, especially if you have younger kids for the Little Kids Space.
- You will need to make a day out of it. I mentioned before that this place is huge and I mean it. You cannot do everything in one day, even if you are there from open to close. I felt like I was rushing my kids through certain things so that we could make it to see something else. My personal recommendation would be to a get a membership so you can go back often.
- You need close-toed shoes to ride the High Wire Unicycle. We learned this the hard way unfortunately. My girls had sandals, which were not going to fall off, but also had open sides and did not fit the requirements. You also have to have a minimum of a 25 inch inseam.
- Getting a membership may be worth your while. You could easily go and spend a full day in the Little Kids Space, one day checking out shows, one day playing in the energy center, etc… COSI offers a variety of membership packages, so there is likely one that is perfect for your family’s needs. ***They also offer a 10% military discount for active, reserve, and retired military. Military ID required.***
- There is such a thing as Rat Basketball – who knew?
- You will want to factor at least one “show” into your visit. They have some experience add-ons and some free shows, you will want to see at least one.
Giant Screen Theatre
Live Science Shows
Chemistry Live (What kid doesn’t like explosions?)
Electrostatic Generator Show
And yes, Rat Basketball
Let’s be honest… fun is amazing, but to us moms, it’s the little details that make it worth visiting and revisiting a specific attraction. So, let’s talk about some of those.
The Little Kid’s Space has a pretty amazing nursing area.
Their staff and volunteers are amazing – friendly, engaged and knowledgeable. They make this huge museum seem intimate and manageable. If you are a first timer, like me, they will walk you through all of the options and make recommendations. I thought this “safe kid” service was a nice added touch.
COSI has made special accommodations to create sensory-friendly experiences for guests impacted by autism or other sensory sensitivities. This includes the ability to see exhibits and learn more about the facility prior to visiting and a Calming Room if your child needs to step away from the crowds for a little bit. How cool is that?
These two thought COSI was pretty awesome!