Outer Space Fun for Kids

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Kids love to pretend they’re astronauts ... so it’s no wonder they’re also interested in learning what is really out there. Encourage your child’s curiosity of outer space with one of many local programs.

We have been a space-crazed nation for almost 50 years, when John F. Kennedy announced that the USA would send a man to the moon. Young minds have been absolutely captivated by the possibility of traveling to outer space since Neil Armstrong took those first steps on the moon in 1969. And guess what? Neil Armstrong was born less than two hours from Cincinnati! In fact, there have been 29 amazing astronauts that have hailed from the great state of Ohio. Like those astronauts before us, it is easy to look into space and wonder … what’s out there? What’s it like to be an astronaut, taking off into space?

3…2…1… BLAST OFF to learning and fun as you embark on your mission! The goal is to have a “blast” with your family while making out-of-this-world space discoveries. Allow yourself to be a kid again, look at the stars in the sky and become filled with intrigue. And don’t forget to look into the eyes of your child, as he finds himself amazed and inspired, too! Each local space place on our list is unique; there is truly something for every age range and interest level. Space is vast, and so are the opportunities for entertainment and education here in the Tri-State.

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Cincinnati Museum Center

Museum of Natural History & Science | 1301 Western Ave. | 513-287-7000 | cincymuseum.org

What’s there?

The Eagle has landed! On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon as a part of the Apollo 11 mission. Armstrong spent an impressive two-and-a-half hours walking on the surface of the moon. During that time he completed several objectives, including collecting moon rocks! In 2009, Neil Armstrong donated an actual moon rock collected during the Apollo 11 mission to Cincinnati Museum Center. The space exhibit displays the moon rock donated by Armstrong, a replica Apollo 11 space suit, and mission tools.

Make it fun!

Ask questions to guide the experience and discover the answers together through research. Here are some ideas: How do you think astronauts train for their missions (hint: it’s physical and mental)? What do you think astronauts eat while they are in space? Do astronauts float around while they sleep in space? Can you pretend to walk like an astronaut on the moon?

What else should I know?

  • The museum offers space-themed birthday parties through May 1, 2016
  • Spring Break camps: Lego Space Camp (grades K – 1) Monday, March 28; Lego Junior Jedi camp (grades K – 1) Thursday, March 31; Lego Star Wars (grades 2 – 8) Thursday, March 31
  • Summer camps: Junior Jedi camp (grades K – 1) June 27 – July 1; Star Wars camp (grades 2 – 4 and 5 – 8) June 27 – July 1; Space Day Camp (grades K – 1) July 25 – 29; Air and Space Science Camp (grades 5 – 8) Aug. 8 – 12

 

Cincinnati Observatory

3489 Observatory Place | 513-321-5186 | cincinnatiobservatory.org

What’s there?

The Cincinnati Observatory boasts the oldest professional telescope in the entire United States. Made in Germany in the year 1843, the Merz and Mahler telescope is still in use for public programming today! Also in use is a telescope made in 1904 that weighs in at several tons.

Make it fun!

Astronomer and co-host of PBS’ Star Gazers, Dean Regas chimes in on what “makes it fun” for him! “My favorite part of my job is helping people look through a telescope and seeing what’s out there. So many people have never looked through a telescope before and it literally lights up their faces. When you see the craters of the Moon or the rings of Saturn it inspires you. It changes you. It not only works for kids but also adults.” So simply check the forecast, make your reservation, and enjoy the experience with your family!

What else should I know?

  • The Observatory’s telescopes are available for public viewings on Thursday and Friday evenings and for special events on Saturdays
  • Jupiter Night is Saturday, March 12
  • Observatory staff assist you with your telescope by lining up the optics and showing you how the various functions work. Call to set up your telescope consultation!

 

Drake Planetarium & Science Center

2020 Sherman Ave. | 513-396-5578 | drakeplanetarium.org

What’s there?

Drake Planetarium boasts an impressive 35-foot domed theatre with an optical star system that projects 180 degrees of images overhead. Planetarium guests have the opportunity to choose from 10 enlightening shows, including a show called Skies Over Cincinnati. This interactive feature focuses on the planets and constellations you can see in your own backyard.

Make it fun!

Make sure to call in advance to book your reservation, then sit back, relax and enjoy the view during your chosen show! Then, check out the stars at night to recap what you learned during the show.

What else should I know?

  • Drake Planetarium offers solar system-themed birthday parties
  • The Planetarium offers themed, educational, after-school programming
  • Summer camps: Lil’ Astronauts Summer Camp (grades K – 2) July 25 – 29; Rockin’ Rockets camp (grades 3+) June 6 – 10

 

Haile Digital Planetarium

409 Natural Science Center, Highland Heights, KY | 859-572-5600 | artscience.nku.edu/departments/pget/planetarium.html

What’s there?

NKU’s Haile Digital Planetarium has several feature films focused on space. Earth, Moon, Sun is a show produced by NKU that was voted best full-dome presentation at the 2009 conference of the Digistar planetariums!

Make it fun!

The planetarium’s feature film Earth, Moon, Sun discusses eclipses and phases of the moon. If you have younger kids, consider creating an Oreo moon cycle chart (spaceplace.nasa.gov/oreo-moon/en/). Separate the cookies, and scrape the creme from your Oreo’s to make it look like the various phases of the moon.

What else should I know?

  • Free Friday shows are open, public, family-friendly shows. They are on the first and third Fridays of the month. Doors open at 7:15 p.m., shows begin at 7:30 p.m.
  • Summer camps: Astronomy Camp (grades 6 – 8) July 6 – 10; Advanced Astronomy Camp (grades 6 – 8) July 13 – 17

 

iSPACE

300 Scarlet Oaks Drive | 513-612-5786 | ispacescience.org

What’s there?

iSPACE is a non-profit organization that offers STEM learning to children in the Greater Cincinnati region through field trips, outreach, scout programs and summer day camps. Campership scholarships are available for campers in need. Call and ask for an application!

Make it fun!

iSPACE brings programming to you! Groups can book space-themed programs for scout programs, school or family events. There are a variety of programs available, and all of them involve hands-on activities. Prior space knowledge is not required, just curious minds ready to have fun and learn!

What else should I know?

  • Summer camps: Three Bears Space camp (grades K – 1) June 20 – 24 and July 18 – 22; Astronaut Training Challenge camp (grades 2 – 3) June 20 – 24 and June 27 – July 1; LEGO Mars Trek camp (grades 4 – 5) Aug. 1 – 5; Radical Rockets (grades 6 – 8) June 20 – 24; Deep Space Bots (grades 6 – 8) June 27 – July 1 or July 25 – 29; S3 – Space Station Science (grades 6 – 8) July 11 – 15

 

Wolff Planetarium at Burnet Woods

3251 Brookline Ave. | 513-357-2604 | cincinnatiparks.com/central/burnet-woods/

What’s there?

Celebrating its 66th year, the Wolff Planetarium continues to wow guest. The planetarium seats up to 20 people for a live, interactive experience. There is no pre-recorded show at Wolff; a knowledgeable staff member guides the tour through space. Each show is unique and tailored to its audience.

Make it fun!

Staff members guide the tour through the night sky and customize it based on audience participation. Come with questions or sit back and enjoy where the conversation goes!

What else should I know?

  • ArtsWave will install a scale solar system this summer along the sidewalks of Clifton
  • Public planetarium shows resume in the fall of 2016
  • Summer camp: Mission to Mars camp (ages 9 – 12) June 23 – 27

Amanda Ciani lives in Northern Kentucky with her husband and their three terrific sons. She enjoys writing haiku parenting poems for her Instagram account (@cinciciani), and Twitter account (@haikuciani).

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