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As a kid I was completely obsessed with science centers. They were my favorite place to go. On a class trip, with my parents, any way I could get to a hands-on science center simply made my day. The same excited butterflies recently entered my stomach when I found out The Harsco Science Center at The Whitaker Center – located in Harrisburg, PA was in the path of our family vacation.
As authentic as a good old hands on science center can get – my kids (and let’s be honest, I) had THE best time. OK, my husband too… and the baby. So we were five for five! We started our day on the third floor playing with light, sound, air, and everyone’s favorite – the giant bubble machine.
We then moved on to what would be our home for the next two hours – the “tot” area – KidsPlace. I could not get my kids – ages seven and three – out of this amazing area filled with everything a kid could want to exercise their imagination.
Even the baby got in to it!
Between the play ambulance, theatre (with multiple background curtains and really nice props), water play area, fish tank, big brick & slide structure, they were engaged and playing and content as can be. Guess what we were able to do? Sit down and just watch!
If The Harsco Science Center was nothing but this one area I’m convinced they would still think this was the highlight of our trip.
Also in this area was my favorite accessory to any good family venue – a nursing room! Part a mom’s refuge from her own children and part a quiet, private, cheerful place to breastfeed, it got a full A+ from me!
Heading down a flight, brought us to the “Move It” area with car races, die cut machines, and tons of play experiences.
Followed by the circus themed “Carnival of Health”, that was filled with interactive exercise games as far as the eye could see.
Heading down another flight brought us to “Forces of Nature” where we learned about weather (including a hurricane simulation machine) and gravity. The kids loved lifting thousands of pounds with pulleys and having very fast wind blown in their faces! Since the last few months have been filled with crazy weather occurrences it was nice to have hands on demonstrations so the kids could actually learn about them.
But here – the pièce de résistance – was the “Backstage Studio”, including a stop animation lab. Upon seeing this, my husband became giddy. It was quite possibly the most excited I’ve ever seen him at a place for kids. Normally the guy telling us it’s time to go – he sat down and created a whole movie for our kids which he proudly played. Forget them; I was excited to watch HIM enjoy it so much!
What we thought would be a fun back-up – in case of a rainy day while visiting amusement parks – turned out to be the highlight of our trip. I can’t recommend The Harsco Science Center enough if you will be in the Harrisburg, Lancaster, or Pennsylvania Dutch area. Rain or shine, this place will be a hit.
As if their permanent exhibits aren’t cool enough, they have visiting exhibits as well (while we were there it was dinosaurs!). If you live in the area you can also take advantage of the wonderful programs they offer like Little Learners and a Parent-Child STEM Adventure program for kids 3-5. They also have Girl Scout programs and Girls in STEM programs.
With the holidays coming, definitely check out the Holiday Celebrations including the seasonal Whitaker Wonderland – a sock skate rink, “snowball” pit, and Cranky Cars – from November 17, 2017 – January 28, 2018.
Venturing past the little ones – The Whitaker Center offers movies on the giant screen (Central PA’s biggest if you’re keeping track!) and live performances (including comedians and musicians) at the Sunoco Performance Theater.
We really did have the best time. Plus the kids got to learn a little science (ha ha- tricked them!). I can’t recommend this place enough. A great stop for Fall, Winter, or a place to add to your itinerary for next summer.
I’m not the only one who wants you to experience this amazing place, the kind people at The Whitaker Center want you to come as well! They’ve generously offered to give away to one lucky reader of The Mint Chip Mama a Family Four Pack of tickets!
To win, please comment below – what your kids would be the most excited to see (or learn about) at The Whitaker Center!
Winner will be picked Wednesday, November 1st, 2017, 5pm EST.
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