For those of you who haven't yet heard, a world-class hands-on science museum opened in Hartford, CT in 2009 and it is amazing! They have four full floors (8 gigantic exhibits) of extraordinary, imaginative, engaging and high quality activities for all ages--I am a grownup and I love it there! You don't have to be a science teacher to love it, though. There are high and low-tech interactive exhibits covering every square inch of the place. They even have a 3-D IMAX theater.
I encourage all teachers to plan a field trip here. The Center was designed not only to entertain and teach, but to include highlights of all major science concepts in the state science curriculum: Sound and Light, Electricity and Magnetism, Physical Science, Astronomy and Space Science, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Energy, and Human Anatomy and Physiology. There is something there for each of my middle school students and I teach all three grades! Click here to download the educator guide.
Remember, teachers go free all summer, so check it out with some teacher friends and have a lovely lunch at their cafe, which carries excellent local and organic salads and sandwiches in addition to the ubiquitous pizza and hotdogs for the kids. Check out the menu by clicking this link.
The Connecticut Science Center has the most excellent Lego table in the Invention Dimension Room. My son and I made this cool drawbridge which drew appreciative commentary from a fellow (9 year old) builder.
In addition this, they have large Rube Goldberg devices that use golf balls in place of marbles:
There is also a Robot Challenge where you can race a commercial production robot to complete a puzzle. The robot gloats (Can a robot do this? Yes, most definitely, it can!) if it wins and scolds you if you cheat. If you beat him at his own game, he shows you up by completing two puzzles at once.
Keep in mind, this post describes only ONE ROOM of the Science Center! I highly recommend this trip...we purchased a membership last year and it takes us an hour to drive there. It is so worth it!