Rollicking family fun fosters learning

The diverse options for learning at these varied education centers makes it easy to fit a teaching moment into any North Carolina road trip.

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Aiden Hinton

Children love to explore, discover and create. Through the use of art, science and history, children are able to let their imaginations run wild as they become pirates, animals, builders, musicians, veterinarians, and more as they experience learning through play at children’s museums around the state.Children’s Museum and Science Center at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences, Rocky MountUncover the secret world of owls, dig for shark’s teeth, watch for birds or see the retelling of “Three Billy Goats Gruff” with puppets. The Children’s Museum and Science Center is full of sights and sounds as children explore the world of science. As part of the Cummins Planetarium, astronomy takes center stage as the wonders of the night sky are projected on a 30-foot dome. Showcasing the Sun’s flares, solar tornados, Galilean moons, Saturn’s rings and constellations, children will be mesmerized by the galaxy far away. Open Tuesday through Sunday, admission is $6. Children under two may enter the museum free of charge.Greensboro Children’s Museum, GreensboroStretch the mind and body with yoga classes for the little ones at the Greensboro Children’s Museum. Travel down Main Street in hands-on exhibits where children can shop for groceries in the Market, cook a pizza in the restaurant, get a check-up at the health center, mail a letter at the post office, deliver the news at an ancho desk, drive a police and fire truck, sit in the cock-pit of a plane and much more. The Edible Schoolyard allows kids, teens and adults the opportunity to grow and harvest food while learning how the farm to table movement succeeds. There’s plenty cooking camps and schools for teens and adults. Open on Mondays for members, and Tuesday through Sunday for the general public, admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $8 for children 12 months and older.Imagination Station Science and History Museum, WilsonUnderstanding the Earth’s system in orbit, tracking tsunami waves, and keeping up-to-date with real time weather can all be found on a six feet in diameter sphere located in the midst of the Imagination Station. With a focus on science and history, children can watch snakes slither and bees make honey, or simply visit the replica of a courtroom or tour the North Carolina Museum of the Coastal Plain with artifacts from Morrison’s Drug Store, demonstrations of the foot-treadle floor loam, or exhibits from the early life on the coast. Open Tuesday through Sunday, admission is $5 with children under three allowed in for free.KidSenses Children’s Interactive Museum, RutherfordtonExplore a variety of skills and subjects with KidSenses Children’s Museum. Ranging from nature and gardening to health and fitness to shapes and colors to careers and communication, children are educating themselves through playtime activities. Children are provided numerous opportunities to build gadgets, develop design skills, build simple machines, count and calculate. Becoming Bubble-ologists provides a unique way for children to step inside the world of bubbles as they understand the principles behind these pockets of air. Detours through the pet hospital, market, fire station and climbing structures are sure to be a splash of fun. Open Tuesday through Saturday, admission is $8 for adults and children, $6 for seniors and active military, and free for members.Marbles Kids Museum, RaleighPreparing for fire safety at the station, driving a bus, providing wellness checks at the doctor’s office, treating pets with care, and sharing the weather report with television viewers are all part of venturing around town in a kid-size version of the community at the Marbles Museum. Open seven days a week, the museum, which also boasts an IMAX theatre, offers children the opportunities to create music on an old staircase transformed into a piano and play the chimes, xylophones and bells in the outdoors. Designed for children 10 and under, admission is $5.There is knowledge to be found in every town across the state — from museums to science stations — all designed to get those little wheels turning. North Carolina has much to offer to motivate and engage students, get out there and explore and enjoy you never know you might learn something new as well.