Designed to help kids develop creativity and critical thinking skills, the exhibits at The Thinkery are also just plain fun. Parents will appreciate the museum’s guides who help lead the little ones through many of the exhibits. With 40,000 square feet of exhibit space, the museum can be a little overwhelming without the help of a knowledgeable guide.
The Spark Shop houses a machine that allows kids to paint a sign with thick ribbons of wax. Also, they can use magnets to move a thick fluid around and create sculptures. The Projectile Range and Wind Lab lets them launch airplanes as they learn about the mechanics of air pressure.
The Light Lab features a wall full of lighted pegs that looks like a giant Battleship game. In the Frozen Shadows display, kids can create a shadow, freeze it and walk away -- and the shadow stays behind. In the Paint with Light area, light-emitting hula hoops and bracelets create colorful designs on the walls as the youngsters move.
In the Currents area, visitors learn about the properties of water in motion. Be prepared to get wet. Kids can play drums immersed in water, watch a tank full of water turn into a swirling eddy and be mesmerized by a water wall.
For the young environmentally conscious Austinite in the family, the Let’s Grow exhibit features a pretend farmer’s market and chicken coop. Intended for very young kids, the little shoppers can gather plastic eggs and vegetables and learn about good nutrition.
In the Faces exhibit, children can take selfies and upload them to a photo wall featuring only that day’s visitors. To make it even more fun, they can alter their own photos, adding mustaches or crazy eyes.
A 2,500-square-foot space, the workshop lets kids operate simple machines, paint on a huge glass wall and learn how electrical circuits work.
Equipped with sinks and counters, the Kitchen Lab hosts supervised activities ranging from baking to creating dramatic chemical reactions.
The outdoor play area has ropes to climb on and tunnels to wriggle through. Plus, there’s a babbling brook complete with rubber duckies.
What Parents Say
The museum is consistently a huge hit for the under-5 crowd, with never-ending possibilities for stimulation. However, some say that older kids might get bored after about an hour. It's always a good idea to arrive as early as possible but not for the reasons you might expect. The smiling, helpful staff you find at 9 a.m. sometimes gets a little grumpy and tired by the afternoon. Also, the one-time admission can be a bit steep, but all agree that the membership is a bargain if you plan to visit a few times per year.
1830 Simond Avenue / (512) 469-6200