Unlocking Curiosity: 10 Hands-on Learning Centers for Kids in Pennsylvania

Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center (Photo: Visit PA)

By Ashley Adams

July 14, 2023

Hands-on learning is a great way for a kid to gain valuable knowledge about the world around them. As they get ready to head back to school, get their brain back in learning mode at these great Pennsylvania hands-on learning and discovery attractions. They’ll be having so much fun they won’t even notice they are learning!

Kids like to touch everything it seems. While that can be a problem when visiting a museum with rare and expensive artwork or artifacts, that’s not the case at certain places throughout Pennsylvania. At some, in fact, touching is encouraged.

Save yourself from a frustrating afternoon of repeating “don’t touch” endlessly by taking your kids to one of the state’s fun hands-on learning destinations.

From hurricane simulators to hands-on interactive displays, your kids will be enthralled by the firsthand learning opportunities.

ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum, Erie

ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum in Erie offers exhibits focused on STEAM—science, technology, engineering, art, and math—to encourage kids to create, collaborate, and innovative. There are daily educational programs filled with exploration and learning.

The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m. and Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for children and adults, and $8 for senior citizens.

Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia

Your kids won’t want to leave the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, where the possibilities for educational fun are numerous. They can race sailboats in water currents, play hopscotch on clouds, and become architects, doctors, or shop keepers in City Capers.

The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Monday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $22 for children and adults. Unlimited carousel rides are $5 per child.

Bloomsburg Children’s Museum, Bloomsburg

Kids can enjoy exploring an Egyptian tomb, coal mine, giant bird’s nest, American Indian longhouse, and so much more at the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum. The nearly 40-year-old institution offers sustainable and dynamic learning opportunities for children of all ages year-round.

The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $7 for children and adults.

Bellefonte Art Museum, Bellefonte

The Bellefonte Art Museum in Bellefonte offers a colorful, inviting space for kids to explore and create their own masterpieces. The free museum features exhibits by local and international artists and also hosts art classes and events for both children and adults.

The museum is open Friday through Sunday from noon  to 4:30 p.m.

Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center, Punxsutawney

Punxsutawney Phil isn’t the only reason the town of Punxsutawney is a great place to learn about the science and folklore of weather. At the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center, kids can visit Phil’s burrow, feel the effects of lightning, and learn about tornadoes and other weather phenomena. 

The center is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $8 for children and adults.

Da Vinci Science Center, Allentown

The Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown aims to bring science to life and lives to science through interactive exhibits. Kids can experience what it’s like to be in a hurricane inside a simulator, or they can use bicycle pedal power to ignite light bulbs at the PPL Electric Utilities E-Power House exhibit. At the Built Like a Mack Truck center, your kid will be challenged to build the most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly truck and then drive it through realistic work scenarios.

The center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. Admission is $15.95 for children and adults.

Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh

The Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh is dedicated to inspiring learning and curiosity by connecting science and technology with everyday life. The center features four floors of interactive science exhibits for kids to explore and also offers camps, classes, and off-site education programs.

The science center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens, and $15 for children ages 3 to 12.

Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, Stroudsburg

Go back in time and learn about the lives of 19th-century Pennsylvania German farmers at the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm in Stroudsburg. Kids can tour the farm buildings, meet the animals, and get a sense of what life was like before the convenience of electricity.

The farm is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for children ages 3 to 12.

Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, Harrisburg

The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg features three floors of imaginative, engaging exhibits where your kid can explore science, perform experiments, and discover more about the world around them. This summer the center has 12 interactive, life-sized animatronic dinosaurs that roar, feed, fight, and care for their young.

The center is open Thursday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults and children ages 7 and up, $10 for senior citizens, and $13 for children ages 3 to 6.

Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania, State College

Located in State College, Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania offers hands-on exhibits and programs designed to provide valuable informal STEM education. Each of the center’s exhibits is related to a scientific or mathematical concept and is made to spark creativity, curiosity, and imagination in every kid.

The center is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and children.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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