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Today, science lets children as young as 7 years old stand in the eye of a hurricane and fly over the surface of Mars—at least at the Connecticut Science Center. The multi-sensory center encourages all ages to explore the exciting side of natural and man-made phenomena. Whether they're braving gale-force winds in the hurricane simulator or engaging with exotic critters in the live animal touch tanks, visitors play an active role in the Science Center's more than 165 hands-on exhibits. In the Sight and Sound Experience, adventurers feel sound vibrations, experiment with lasers and movement, and hear light, whereas Planet Earth encourages them to probe for fossils in a real seabed core. Exploring Space journeys outside the atmosphere with moon rocks and an up-close visit to a black hole, before Invention Dimension, which features LEGOs, returns to Earth so that fledgling engineers can build their own Rube Goldberg machine without calculating the effects of zero gravity.
Recently, the Science Center welcomed its newest resident: a sound-equipped animatronic dilophosaurus, whose reptilian movements and noises recreate the goosebumps felt during the species' starring role in Jurassic Park. Robotics also plays a central role in Forces in Motion, which introduces the fundamentals of engineering and design by letting visitors challenge a robot to a game of basketball. The Science Center's dedication to machine life also extends to its programs with a summer teen robotics program and camps during school vacations.
Beyond the permanent exhibits, the museum is also a frequent stop for headline-grabbing traveling exhibits from around the country; with multiple exhibits coming through every year, no visit is likely to be the same as the last. The Science Center also houses learning areas suited to even smaller guests: in KidSpace, ages 3–6 splash in a water play area, partake in story time, experiment with a wall of magnetic balls, and test their object recognition in searching activities designed by I Spy author Walter Wick. Other child-friendly areas include Critter Corner, Lunar Lander and Tiny Town - the latter consisting of giant foam building blocks. Beyond the exhibits, a state-of-the-art 3D digital theater screens science-focused films, and four educational labs host special programs such as summer exploration camps and professional development for educators. An on-site Subway restaurant, meanwhile, keeps visitors fueled. All of this academic adventure unfolds in the Science Center's sleek building, which honors its green architecture with a rooftop garden boasting panoramic views of Hartford.