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Science is Everywhere and for Everyone

By Katharine Stevens

See who can keep their wheel spinning the longest in Gadgets. All photos by Jim Celuch.

COSI is a place for family connection, fun and inspiration. Whether it’s you and your child’s first visit, a favorite meet-up spot for you and your best friends, or an outing that has become family tradition, the memories you build at COSI are ones you’ll carry with you for years.

Your exciting and educational experience begins the moment you step through COSI’s entryway, where a stringless laser harp waits to be played and an ever-moving pendulum proves Earth’s rotation (stick around — every seven and a half minutes, the pendulum knocks a metal ball off a circular display). After you get your ticket, set off to explore these interactive exhibits and all COSI has to offer.

Go Prehistoric in the Dinosaur Gallery

Huge dinosaurs like the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex went extinct 66 million years ago, but since 2017, they’re getting a second life at COSI. Created in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, the Dinosaur Gallery is always greeted with exclamations of awe from kids and adults alike as they see the massive T. rex. skeleton at the entrance. “It’s like the one in Jurassic Park!” one child excitedly tells his parents. Just behind the full-sized skeleton, a 1/7th sized mechanical replica moves to show the pace and gait of these giant creatures.

Small children love being able to touch an Apatosaurus’ ulna (a forearm bone) and pick up and move two Camarasaurus vertebrae in a ball and socket joint. Continue through the exhibit to spot more artifacts, including a staged environment of the Liaoning Forest filled with turtles, insects, feathered dinosaurs and trees from the Cretaceous Period. Four-year-old Jackson — lifted up for a better view — likens the area to a “seek and find.”

In the final area of the exhibit, take a deep dive into living dinosaurs — birds — including brains, bones and nests. Gather your friends or family for a photo op in a replica dinosaur nest, possibly belonging to a Gigantoraptor. Near the exit, critters captured for eternity in fossilized Burmese amber offer a perfectly preserved peek into the prehistoric era.

Dive into Ocean

The sound of rushing waves calls you to the entrance of Ocean. The darkened walkway is reminiscent of a coral reef, with a split that leads to two separate sectors. Take a left, and you’ll enter Poseidon’s realm. The giant sculpture of the mythical Greek god of the ocean presides over interactive water features like water cannons that demonstrate laminar flow, fountains you can balance a ball on, a wave tank that creates patterns in the sand and water bells that show how “sticky” water can be. In the back of the exhibit, roll up your sleeves to play at a water table, building up the sand before turning on the water to watch it erode your creation and make room for new ones.

When you move into the other half of the exhibit, you’ll step into the DSB Poseidon research habitat. A bright yellow mini submarine greets you first thing; it’s a great size for the little ones to climb in, take the wheel and become a deep-sea explorer. Or step into the Alvin Sphere, which has helped humans explore the deep ocean since the mid 1900s. Hit the dive button to activate the vessel, and you’ll feel it move beneath your feet as a video feed of the ocean out the “windows” makes the experience feel real. Further in the exhibit, find the Lily Pad area, which teaches about watersheds and the fish, turtles, birds and even raccoons that call them home. You’ll even get to see and learn about some of the Ohio-native creatures that live at COSI, including fish, turtles and salamanders.

Gear up in Gadgets

Just up the stairs from Oceans, enter into the world of gears, machinery and technology in Gadgets. Team up with two friends to operate the giant engine at the entrance — your legs run the pistons! Past the engine, help your child build an aerodynamic flying machine at the Creation Station before testing it out in the wind tunnels. If their creation encounters too much turbulence, try again! Leeanne Stevens, a preschool teacher, says, “The Creation Station is great for young kids because they’re not bound by strict rules for how to build their device. They’re offered an open door to experiment, be creative and learn through the process of trial and error.”

If you’re visiting with friends, challenge each other to a race at the pulley chairs and try to lift yourselves off the ground. (Hint: the more pulleys you have, the easier the work will be.) Along the wall of the exhibit, explore the properties of magnets and how light bulbs work, or break out your fancy footwork to make cylinders fire in order of the solfège scale. And there’s plenty more to explore: create a chain reaction on the gear wall, build your own bridge or send a ball flying into a system of twists and turns using only a tube, air pressure and a wheel!

Build a parachute and test how well it flies in Gadgets.

little kidspace®

It’s never too early to foster your child’s curiosity. COSI’s little kidspace® was designed by early education experts for kids from birth to 6 years old and offers several areas to help your child develop by playing pretend.

The little ones can climb up, slide down and crawl under the treehouse at the entrance of the kidspace, or count and sort veggies at the farmer’s market. Further down, the water table is arguably the kidspace’s most dynamic element. Water wheels, jets and bells create a sensory experience that helps children engage with and learn about water’s properties.

Your child can also play heroes in the firetruck, helicopter, ambulance or hospital, where mini doctors-to-be can run “appointments” at the health clinic. Or help them work on their hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills by building in the construction area.

BONUS: Science Onstage

In between exploring COSI’s unique exhibits, catch some of the live shows for on-the-spot entertainment. No matter how old you were for your first visit, everyone remembers the electrostatic generator that makes your hair stand on end. Or watch rats compete in rat basketball and cheer your favorite friend to the hoop. If you’re lucky, you’ll stop by on a day when there is a scientist collecting data at COSI! Don’t be afraid to ask them about their experiment and how you can participate!

For showtimes, videos and more, download the COSI app.

It’s Time to Explore!

What are you waiting for? Come back and rediscover old favorites from your childhood or find something new to spark a sense of wonder. Whether you bring your children to share in your childhood experiences, or bring your friends to explore and make memories, COSI is the perfect place to learn, experience and grow together.

Plan and book your COSI experience online.

Explore the Exhibits

Read more about the current exhibits open to explore.

All About COSI

Learn more about COSI’s mission and vision.