COSI: The Science of Fun

COSI Downtown Columbus Indoor Play Museum

Center of Science and Industry makes learning a blast


I joined a line of teenagers to test my fear of heights at the Center of Science and Industry in downtown Columbus. I approached my turn on the high-wire unicycle as my family looked on with encouragement.

After being strapped in, I pedaled backward and surveyed the atrium 17 feet below. Curious onlookers stopped in their tracks.

“OK, now pat your head with one hand and rub your belly with the other,” joked the ride attendant, after I’d traveled to the end of the 84-foot line.

COSI has been encouraging people to put themselves in unique situations in the name of science and fun for 50 years. Innovative attractions geared to spark children’s interest in the physical and natural world have garnered the science center attention and accolades. Parents Magazine named COSI the No. 1 science center in the United States.

My family can attest to having too much fun, all in the name of science. There are hundreds of interactive exhibits to explore in the 320,000 square-foot former Central High School, COSI’s home since 1999.

We buckled ourselves to zero-gravity seats at an exhibit called Space. We played an organ that duplicates the odd sounds our bodies make at an exhibit called Life, which explores human beings from birth to death. I lifted my own body weight in a pulley chair at an exhibit called Gadgets.

We also learned a thing or two.

My husband, Mike, learned that Sherlock Holmes was a masterful observer as he put his skills to the test while solving crimes at a new exhibit called The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes. Mike and daughter Rosie collected evidence and recorded their findings in a notebook. My son, Max, and I assembled a broken three-dimensional puzzle of a human head and squirted fake blood on a windshield.

I learned that bananas aren’t the most eco-friendly fruits in the bunch at an exhibit called Energy Explorers, which focuses on how energy powers the world around us—from the products we buy to the transportation we take. Bananas, it turns out, require a boatload of fuel to travel from tropical lands to the United States, giving them a gigantic carbon footprint.

Max learned what it’s like to enter a real-life yellow submarine at an exhibit called Ocean. Rosie held onto a pair of handles and listened to the rhythm of her heartbeat on a drum.

There are still many things I haven’t done at COSI. I have yet to feel the hair-raising experience of an electrostatic charge, take a turn at being a weather reporter in front of a green screen, or stand in a wind tunnel and endure a 78-mile gust.

These are reasons why we must return soon.

For more information about COSI, visit www.cosi.org.

Experience Columbus is offering a “Roar and Explore Adventure Getaway” package for $411. It includes a two-night stay at a Drury Hotel, four tickets to COSI, four tickets to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and four tickets to Zoombezi Bay. Learn more at www.columbusfamilyfun.com.

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Wendy and Mike Pramik

Wendy and Mike Pramik are writers from Columbus, Ohio. Their favorite topic is travel, and they enjoy sharing stories about the many weekend adventures they take with their two children, Rosie and Max.