We Visit the New Discovery Lab!
I renewed our Discovery Lab membership a couple months ago, in anticipation of their Grand Opening. Which meant we were not-quite-first-in-line-but-not-too-far-behind on their first members-only opening day! Discovery Lab fans, families and science enthusiasts (including Joss and I) have been waiting for this day for years. So I was determined to visit as soon as the opportunity arose. Of course, I had already visited a couple times in the past few months, having the privilege to see the museum in different stages of construction. But so much has changed since my last visit, it was still a huge thrill to see the finished result!
Addressing what may be the elephant in the room – Omicron. Yes, I was nervous visiting the museum, knowing that it was probably going to be busy. I’ve heard of so many Covid cases from people who have been really careful the past couple years. And of course, a lot of schools have reverted to distance learning temporarily because things are so bad. Discovery Lab is requiring masks, but not requiring advance tickets. And yes, it was busy. So I’m glad we went but will think twice before going again on a weekend – at least before the Omicron surge dies down. It is a very hands-on museum, after all!
I’ll take you on a brief museum tour. But first, know that Discovery Lab is open to members only until January 24, when it will open to the general public. Learn more at discoverylab.org.
Discovery Lab’s main hall is home to seven exhibit areas. Two were still under construction when we went. The most popular area was Ballapalooza. It is full of ball pit balls and long tubes, all of which can be explored in different ways. Some of the tubes can be used to vacuum up the balls, but they all connect in different ways. So when you send a ball through one end of a tube, you don’t know where it will end up. There are several ball collection units suspended from the ceiling. When these fill up, the balls are released back to the ground, much like those buckets at a splash pad. You can also sling shot the balls, sort them, etc.
There are a ton of different activities packed into this one area, so kids can spend a lot of time here without getting bored.
The area I was most excited to see is the Imaginarium. Here, you’ll find an interactive, virtual Oklahoma landscape. As you move your hands close to the walls, the grasses will move as though you’re creating wind! And you can keep an eye out for wildlife like deer, scissor-tailed flycatchers, etc.!
In addition to these two spaces, you’ll find Math + Music, Energy, the HydroLab, Featured Hall (coming soon!) and the Central Gallery. The Central Gallery houses the all-new, ever-popular tape tunnels, other climbing structures and building blocks! You can also build your own parachute, dance with scarves, etc.
The HydroLab wasn’t finished when we went, but I believe should be done by the time the museum opens to the public. There was a very cool water wall, where you could draw a design on a screen, and the water would come cascading down to match your design! You could even spell words out of water!
Easy to do, harder to capture on a camera!
High Facilitation Areas
In addition to the main exhibit hall, you’ll find three “high facilitation” areas: the Little Lab, for kids ages 0-5, The WorkShop and the Science Lab.
The toddler area at the former Discovery Lab location was great for parents of littles. And this new Little Lab is even better, with bright colors, including a brilliant bug mural!
The green play table in that first photo is full of beans in one half, and edible “mud” in the other. So…if you pay a visit to the Little Lab, expect a mess! Good thing there’s a sink along the wall!
I knew Joss would love The WorkShop, although I had to drag him away from other areas to get him over there 🙂 Here, you’ll find computers, cameras, electronic toys and keyboards…various things your kids can dismantle to discover what’s inside! A couple older kids next to us were talking knowledgeably about computer parts and trying to hoard…memory cards? Really, I could have used something like this as a kid so I’m not so clueless now! Joss enjoyed taking apart a small, battery-powered lantern.
A Discovery Lab staff member was behind the workshop table at all times, ready to answer any questions.
In the Science Lab, we learned about erosion using ice blocks, salt and food coloring. There’s also a rock sorting station, earthquake activity, microscope and more. It’s my understanding that activities in The WorkShop and Science Lab will rotate regularly, but I don’t know exactly what the schedule will be. Joss was very excited about getting to wear some lab goggles.
Other Places to Go!
The second floor of Discovery Lab houses classrooms, where you can book birthday parties, or kids can spend time in on field trips. And the very top level of the building is home to Thirty-One Twenty-Three, a high-end event space for more adult parties like wedding receptions or business gatherings. We didn’t visit either of these levels on this trip. However, we did make a stop to Gizmo’s, the new gift shop, which was full of creative, educational offerings! Think robotics kits, bug houses, sensory toys and more. Including, of course, plenty of Discovery Lab-themed merch!
I’m excited to try Bean Sprouts Café, but will have to wait for a future visit. They were still doing training when we went. But, glancing longingly through the windows, I can tell you that this is a bright and cheerful space! The menu is designed to be engaging for kids and healthy, too. In fact, it has a whole section called “Imaginnibles,” where the food is shaped like various objects and animals. So cute!! *UPDATE: A few hours after writing this, Discovery Lab announced on social media that Bean Sprouts is open! Woot!
Finally, there is an amphitheater outside, where we’ll all be able to enjoy live music and more in the future.
Discovery Lab: Visitor Information
Again, Discovery Lab is open to members only through January 23. If you’d like to purchase a membership, do so here. Since Joss is our only child, and I’m with him most of the time he’s not in school, we have the “Just for Two” membership, which is only $60 per year.
Hours are 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays. Monday mornings from 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m. are members-only times.
Members get in free, as do ages 0-2. Ages 2 and up are $10 per visit, and teachers can get in free with their school i.d. All children visiting Discovery Lab must be accompanied by an adult (ages 18+), and all visiting adults must have a child in their group in order to enter. Learn more at discoverylab.org/visit.
All visitors, ages 5 and up, are required to wear a mask, and visitors ages 2-4 are encouraged to wear a mask. See Discovery Lab’s full Covid Policy at discoverylab.org/covid-policy.