We had a BLAST at COSI ( Pronounced with a long O and a long I vowel sound. Don’t be all southern like me and say KOSEEEEEEE an embarrassing million times before getting corrected.)
COSI actually stands for Center Of Science and Industry. Parent’s Magazine voted COSI the #1 Best Science Center in the US.
I haven’t been to all the science centers in the USA, but I have to agree, COSI is fantastic. It has a large variety of interactive exhibits that are educational, entertaining, and fun.
The staff was very helpful and friendly. They really seemed to enjoy working with young ones and helping them learn more.
We could tell from the exterior that this place was going to be cool.
“Okay, Mom, enough of your crazy picture taking. Let’s go inside!”
As soon as we walked in, we were able to see a demonstration on how clouds are formed. The staff does a great job of interacting with kiddos and asking questions. The kids really feel involved and learn a lot in the process.
The first exhibit we visited was Energy Explorers. This sections showed the kids where energy comes from and how it powers the world. It is also designed to help kiddos (and everyone really) make good choices in using energy.
My kiddos favorite part of this exhibit was the blue cars. It was like a video game, but it showed the reality of driving and using fuel.
The Lily Pad
We visited The Lily Pad where we learned a lot about animals. This is a watershed experience that features lab stations and critters native to Ohio. We watched a few members of the COSI staff members feed the animals, including watching a snake eat a small mouse (It was EWW, but my kiddos thought it was very cool).
Electrostatic Generator Show
When we first checked in at General Admissions, we received a map of the center and a flyer with times and locations of special experiences and live shows.
We went to a few shows including the Electrostatic Generator Show. The kiddos got to learn about static electricity and experience 300,000 hair raising volts of static electricity. They volunteered to be in the show and they enjoyed it so much.
The boy didn’t have enough hair so he was given a pom pom!
Oceans Exhibit – Poseidon’s Water World
One of the highlights of COSI (in my opinion) was the Oceans Exhibit. When we first stepped in to this exhibit, it felt like we had entered into another world. We walked through a dimly lit hallway made of “rock” pathways. The floor began to sparkle and as we turned to the left we saw a huge water display with Poseidon as the centerpiece.
This section is designed to show the physical nature of water and is based on real ocean exploration technology. It features energetic waves, eroding sand, and laminar streams.
The kiddos loved shooting water at Poseidon and building waterways with PVC pipe and connectors.
Ocean Exhibit – Submarines
After leaving what felt like a secret underwater lair, we ventured over to the other side of the Ocean Exhibit.
The kids could step inside a small, yellow submarine. There was also a section where we could enter through a tunnel and step into a submarine control panel. This room moved as if the submarine was really under water and seemed very realistic. The Lily Pad (mentioned above) is also in this area.
Another highlight of our visit was the Chemistry Live! Show. This was very educational and fun for the kiddos. The demonstrator did a fantastic job of asking questions and getting the audience involved. He also did a great job of explaining each experiment so that we knew exactly what was going on and the science behind it.
My daughter volunteered to make a hammer out of a stick, half a banana, and liquid nitrogen. There were several explosions (don’t worry, they were exciting, but small and very safe). The kids learned a lot and had a great time at this show. If this show is on the schedule for the day you are visiting, I recommend that you don’t miss it.
Unicycle on a High Wire
Have you ever wanted to ride a unicycle on a high wire? Well, you can at COSI. It honestly felt very unnerving at first, but it turned out to be a great experience.
Planetarium & Space Exhibit
On the same level as the High Wire Unicycle is the Planetarium and the Space Exhibit. We ran out of time and didn’t get to visit the Planetarium (insert sad face here), but we did get to spend some time in the Space Exhibit. The kiddos could control a rover on “Mars”. They were able to see a little of what life was like in a mini International Space Station (you could even put on your “seat belt” and sit on the space potty. We didn’t, but you can -we don’t judge). My six year old son loved all the gadgets and machines in this section.
Okay, if there is one DON’T MISS Exhibit at COSI, it is the Gadgets Exhibit. The kiddos could build a bridge or try to lift their own weight in a pulley chair.
My kiddos LOVED the Gadgets Café. They were given safety goggles, seated at a table, and were given a menu. Instead of food, the menu contained science experiments that the kids could order. They made homemade flubber and a liquid rainbow. They put alka seltzer and water in a film container, and then watched the film container shoot up to the ceiling.
My daughter, who is obsessed with science and chemistry, could have stayed here all day.
Kids and teenagers can also “order” a machine to take apart. Locals donate old computers, toasters, and sewing machines for youngsters to dismantle and learn how they are built and how they work.
The staff at the Gadgets Café were very enthusiastic and accommodating. They seem to love to see kids interested in science and learning while having fun.
My son spent a lot of time at this section of the Gadgets Exhibit. He could shoot balls out of one funnel (funnel ball launcher ?) and watch it land in the funnel on the other side of the room. He made sure all of the pipes lined up so that the balls could travel down the wall.
In the Gadgets Exhibit, there is a “Buffet” of various items like paper cones, coffee filters, colored pipe cleaners, plastic fruit baskets, etc. The kids (and I) made some parachutes and hot air balloons (well, that’s what we were shooting for) and put them in the wind tunnel. Some of our inventions worked and some didn’t. If they didn’t fly properly, we could go back to the buffet and make changes.
We also enjoyed the Progress Exhibit. The first few rooms feature several black-and-white photos on the wall. I honestly thought, “Well, this is going to be boring…”
But then we turned the corner…
All of a sudden, we were transferred to the year 1898….
The town was interactive, and we could enter some of the buildings. There was an outdoor market with an antique scale and cash register. The kids could see how to send a message with Morris Code and see how much transportation has improved and changed in 118 years.
Then we turned another corner, and we were transported to a street in 1962…
The kids could “cook” a meal for their family in the Diner or be a news anchor in a news station studio. There was a radio station, an appliance, store and a gas station. We were really impressed with all of the work and detail that went in to making this exhibit. We really felt like we had been transported to another time.
COSI had a temporary exhibit called Game Masters (no pics were allowed to be taken inside, but I snapped one of Miss H in the outside hallway). The kids could see the progression and growth of technology in video games.
Honestly, the kids just loved all the variety of games that there were to play. We had to drag the boy out of this section.
Check out all of this awesome artwork! Do you see the human skeleton made of wire?
WOSU Public Media Exhibit
There was a lot of giggling going on when we visited the WOSU Public Media Exhibit. The kiddos could stand in front of a green screen in a mini movie studio and they could put themselves in various situations at the control panel. I think their favorite digital effect was being in the ocean with sharks.
This exhibit is the only working television and radio studio in a science center. The kiddos mostly just had a good time, but they were able to learn the art and science behind television production.
Big Science Park
The very last thing we did was venture outside to the Big Science Park. The weather was gorgeous. The sun was shining and there was just enough chill in the breezes to remind us that fall was coming. The kids loved that they could run and yell and play and just be kids.
The kids enjoyed the traffic cone checkers game and the life size maze. There was also a ginormous lever where we could try to lift a car just with our body weight. There is a small green house that was designed and constructed by the students and faculty at Ohio State University.
My son loved the Preposterous Ball Pipes which basically was a ball launcher. He could put small ball in the launcher at the bottom and watch them shoot out of the top. He could have done this all day.
There was also a LIFE Exhibit, but we didn’t spend much time in there. There is a sign as you enter that some parts of the exhibit may be too intense for younger children. We explored the front part of this section, but I didn’t let them go to the back part. It just had a few things that I didn’t think they could handle.
We were a little disappointed that we missed the Rat Basketball. It wasn’t on the schedule on the day that we visited. One of the employees said that the rats may have not felt well that day.
Adventure in the Valley of the Unknown
We did pay extra to do the Adventure in the Valley of the Unknown. The kids were really excited about it. We entered into a dimly lit world that felt like it was right out of an Indiana Jones movie. It really felt like we had found an underground secret world and we were explorers on an archaeological quest.
There were rock pathways, tunnels, and mazes. There were laser beams and trap doors. Speakers were set up and we could hear “bats” flying and other sounds. We had to find clues to get into the observatory to obtain the “treasure of knowledge”.
My eight year old loved it, but there were parts of it that scared my six year old. We could have stayed for more clues to try and solve part 2 of the mystery, but we left since it scared my son.
The museum was open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the day that we visited. We were there when the doors opened and didn’t leave until close. It was 7 hours of pure fun, and my kiddos are already begging to go back. I definitely recommend COSI to anyone traveling even remotely near Columbus, Ohio.
More Information on COSI HERE.
Have you visited COSI in Columbus, Ohio? What was your favorite exhibit?
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