The best $25 we spent all year

Our Danville Science Center membership was the best $25 we spent all year, and it dscseems like one of best kept secrets (that shouldn’t be kept) around. If you don’t live in the Danville area, read on to find out about science center partnerships around the country.

Membership is affordable for all at only $65 for a household, but the science center treats local educators at any public or private school to a free membership that can be upgraded to the dual/family membership for only $25. This dual/family membership includes two adults and all children in the household under 18, four guest passes, and four dome passes.

With a $15 discount for Summer Camps, the minimal membership fee for educators pays for itself if you have two children enrolling in camp. This year’s camps are designed for ages 4-7 with themes around magic and critters, while camps for ages 8-12 are themed around crime scene investigation and robots and rockets.  

There is also a $26 discount for members for birthday parties. The science center has a great room for parties, and my kids have always have a great time at every science center birthday party.  

The best benefit for our family this year has been the Passport Program.  Before you travel this spring and summer, be sure to update your local science center membership and check out this list of over 300 science and technology centers (and some children’s museums) nationwide that participate in the Passport Program. Be aware, that this does not typically apply to science centers within 90 miles of your residence. Call ahead to make sure that you passes will be honored if you are close to the 90-mile radius.

In the past year, we visited centers in Oklahoma City, Richmond, Winston Salem, and dsc8Baltimore all for free. Even if you only have an hour or two, it is a great way to break-up a trip, let the kids burn a little energy, or beat the heat. The cost of admission alone to the Oklahoma City museum would have set us back $58. With only a few hours to spare on our cross-country trip, I never would have wanted to spend that kind of money. Instead, we got in for free and the kids got to enjoy a planetarium show, drive a segway through a road course, and run from one hands-on activity to the next.

The Danville Science Center also has several exciting dates coming up. This Saturday, April 13, the butterfly garden will be open for the first time this season. The renovation will be complete on the train station portion of the museum on May 2.

On our most recent trip to the Danville Science Center, we enjoyed several new traveling exhibits on the lower level: Toys: The Inside Story and Turtle Travels. The Build a Racer exhibit is always a hit with Lego lovers. Children can also explore circuits and simple machines and are given all the tools to build their own.

dsc2Upstairs (after riding the huge elevator that my kids think is the coolest thing) exhibits on friction, potential energy, balance, Bernoulli’s Principle, static electricity await older learners. For the little ones, Sproutsville provides a puppet/dress up theater, stacking blocks, a fun house mirror, a loft to explore, and much more.

The Digital Dome Theatre is currently featuring five different shows. We just saw National Parks and highly recommend it to all ages. This 45 minute show is narrated by Robert Redford. The scenery across the dome is breathtaking, and the show is action packed as you learn about the history of the National Parks by following modern day adventurers who are camping, hiking, climbing, canoeing, and biking.  

Finally, the science center is going digital and memberships are now available to store on your smartphone. Now, you will never have that moment where you have an opportunity to go to a center out of town for free, but you left your membership cards at home.

Consider supporting your local science center. It truly is a win-win situation.

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