My father-in-law and his wife very generously got us a year's membership to OMSI, our local hands-on science museum. To make the most of this opportunity, I've decided to try to go there once a week. That way, we can methodically explore the whole thing, without feeling pressured to see it all at once or hurry through the exhibits. I can go home as soon as the kids start acting tired; I can take a week off because of sickness or being busy, without feeling like I'm not taking advantage of this great gift.
So we went for the first time today. I picked Tuesday because Tuesday is the day we go to the library in the afternoons (if we go at all), so I figured we could hit up the library on our way home from OMSI. (OMSI is pronounced "ahm-see", fyi). This was an exploratory "go to OMSI and see how it goes" thing.
1) They have lockers for $.50; we would probably need a good two lockers to fit all our jackets in. And that option requires remembering to bring quarters.
2) They have free stroller rentals; you hand over your driver's license, which they keep until you bring the stroller back. We did this today, so that I could pile the jackets up on it. This did not work so well. The jackets would not stay in the seat without falling off; I strung them through the handle instead. They mostly stayed there, but maybe 3 times or so, one or another fell off. The stroller was too hard and upright for Julie to be in; instead, Gabe rode in it and got very possessive when any other kid sat in it for a moment. I think it would be better to buy a stroller that I can put Julie in, and make Gabe walk. (I had Julie in my baby-wrap today. That was ok, but in the future it might be nice to be a bit more free to move around, so I can participate more easily in some of the hands-on things with the kids.) We did used to have a nice stroller, but the wheel broke some time ago. Now all we have is a double stroller; it would be nice to keep Gabe contained, but I don't think I could fit it into the back of our minivan. Since I usually carry Julie in the wrap, I haven't bothered to get a new stroller yet; I think it's time now.
3) Tuesday is a good day to go. The lady that sold tickets said early in the week is less busy, and they aren't open Mondays (which also tends to be a day with lots of household chores for me), so Tuesdays it will be. We did have to wait for a couple things because some high schoolers were there on a field trip; it appears that there will always be multiple school groups there, no matter what day we go on.
4) We never got off the first floor. We sort of skimmed our way through the exhibits in the "Design" room. I kind of kept the kids moving from one exhibit to another, perhaps mostly because if they stayed very long at one exhibit, they usually started squabbling with each other about who got to push the buttons, or whatever. I think I would accomplish more in terms of actually teaching the kids some science if Gabe was not along.
5) We spent the longest time on the scale, trying to balance various weights at various lengths on the scale arms. I would actually like to go back with notebooks and pens and have the kids approach the scale methodically, writing down what combinations work and which ones don't, to see if they can find the pattern. I'm not sure if Savi is up to this, and keeping Gabe busy in the meantime could be difficult.
6) Eating at the snack bar would be expensive and probably very unhealthy. ($4.50 for one hot dog, for example). There's a cafe; I got the impression it was a sit-down type, probably more expensive, but I will check it out a little more thoroughly next time. I had brought some cookies, so I let the kids eat those before we left. But I was hungry and cranky by the time we got home. (I skipped going to the library for this reason).
So, conclusions: Buy a stroller and small notebooks for the kids. If the stroller has a place for it, pile jackets on it; otherwise, bring quarters. Bring lunch food.