Indoor Fun for Kids - NASA Goddard Space Flight Visitor Center

Friday, January 30, 2009

A visit to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Visitor Centerhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/museums/goddard-space-flight-visitor-center,1028011.html is a winter weekend staple in our family. The minute we enter the center and walk through the archway of photographs of the universe from the Hubble Space Telescope, the kids are mesmerized. Both of my children have learned a great deal about our universe and are completely fascinated by space from their weekend play with the vast interactive displays and models. Kids are welcome to touch and experience the mechanisms of real telescopes, satellites and rocket flight hardware.

My 2-year-old daughter, Eve, loves the big bin of space-travel-themed toys and the dress-up chest. Her preschool bravado is fierce when she climbs into a real Apollo pod while wearing a NASA flight suit. My 5-year-old son, Charlie, is obsessed with the "Science on a Sphere" exhibit, a movie of animated data viewed on a six-foot-diameter rotating suspended globe. Both kids sit quietly in awe for the entire duration of the film, which is a testament to the splendor of the production. Even though the show's subject matter is a bit over Eve's head, she adores watching the light display.

Charlie always picks up activity pages and a scavenger hunt at the front desk and loves to chat with the friendly volunteer manning the desk. His sweet-talking usually nabs him coloring pages of spacecrafts, mazes, NASA books and one time even a gorgeous full-color wall calendar of Hubble photographs. My husband and I? We always pick up coffee and reading material before bringing the kids here. At such a contained, safe, stimulating destination, we, too, can enjoy ourselves . . . by relaxing as the kids' synapses fire away.

-- Jessica McFadden

NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT VISITOR CENTER Off Soil Conservation Road and Explorer Drive, Greenbelt. Open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday-Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. 301-286-3978 or http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/visitor. Free, and parking is free and abundant.


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