I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.
NC Museum of Natural Sciences - Nature Research Center - Raleigh
I took my toddler and infant sons to see the newly opened Nature Research Center at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. The Center has four floors but only the first three currently have exhibits. Each floor has a science theme such as Animal Science, Earth Science, and Genetics. And each floor has a laboratory where professional scientists are researching their particular field. The laboratories are all viewable through the glass windows that surround them. A touch screen in front of each laboratory even allows you to look at profiles of specific scientists at work and what their main interests are.
The centerpiece of the new wing is the globe which houses a small theater called the Daily Planet. Visitors can wander through the theater and have a seat if they're on the first floor, or they can view the screen from balconies on the second and third floors which overlook the theater.
The Research Center is a member of the new video generation of museums with view and touch screens almost everywhere. While some of the screens allow you to watch video feeds of scientists discussing their work, other screens deliver information traditionally through readable text.
Although there were some highlights for my toddler - like the Chevy Volt stripped down to its' electric guts, the tank showing an artificial reef with fish, and the Dinosaur skeletons - the Research Center is best appreciated by school-age children. I am betting that the Center will be a focal point for school field trips, especially since there are two laboratories where junior scientists can interact with scientific equipment.
The Center has its' own cafe and souvenir shop. My toddler probably enjoyed the gift shop best of all because he could play with all of the dinosaur figures they had for sale.
Looking ahead..... The exhibit of Titanic artifacts is coming to the NRC at the end of September. This will be the well-reviewed exhibit's premiere in the Triangle, as it only came as close as Greensboro before this.