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The 10 Best Science Centers

Packed with family-friendly experiments and plenty of stuff to touch, these winners cater to the younger crowd.
COSI, Columbus, Ohio

You might not think about visiting a science center until your kids are out of kindergarten. After all, what's there really to do with children who are still testing the principles of gravity by dropping their sippy cup? According to Parents' poll, about a third of the nation's 150-plus science centers have galleries designed specifically for children 6 and under. We sent the staff at these centers a detailed survey about what they offer for young kids. The result: this list of innovative places that are bound to inspire more than a few pint-size Einsteins.

COSI, Columbus, Ohio
All the 300-plus exhibits at COSI (short for the Center of Science and Industry) are meant to be touched. But if your children are of kindergarten age or younger, plan on spending most of your time exploring the health clinic, tree house, and power plant in Little Kidscape. A staff member checks families in and out of the gallery and enforces the age limit so young kids can play freely. Plus, there are six different shows daily (be sure to catch the one where rats shoot hoops) and stations where kids can watch exploding atoms, pour a bottle of air, and create electricity. Family restrooms, free use of wagons and strollers, and a cafe that serves nutritious food at a decent price make the outing even better. $12.50 for adults, $7.50 for kids 2 to 12, free on December 7.