Experience all science center has to offer at fraction of cost

So you’re sitting at home in Columbus on a cold Friday evening with your family wondering what to do for entertainment. Do you roam the clearance aisles at Target yet again? Or do you hang out in the play area at Polaris Fashion Place?

Thanks to downtown Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry, there’s something exciting and affordable to do once a month during COSI’s Family Friday Nights. On the last Friday of each month, guests can explore all the interactive exhibits and educational activities the 320,000 square-foot science center has to offer for $10.95 per person, a fraction of the regular admission price.

COSI Family Friday Nights run from 5-9 p.m. Admission includes all of COSI’s permanent exhibitions and educational activities on three floors, plus a viewing of a movie on the seven-story-high screen. Entry typically costs $32.50 for exhibits, shows and a movie.

Playing with “coffee dough” in KidSpace.

My family of four decided to give a Family Friday Night a try in October. Family nights generally have a theme, and our theme was “spooky science” in celebration of Halloween. The activities included a face-painting station and a magician. There was a good crowd, but it wasn’t overwhelming.

While there, we investigated a first-floor exhibit called Ocean, where kids can shoot water canons at a statue of Neptune, the god of the sea in Roman mythology. We also watched a movie on COSI’s Extreme Screen, which normally costs extra but is included on Family Friday Nights.

We spent the majority of our time, though, in an area designated to preschoolers called Little KidSpace. My two-year-old daughter Rosie unknowingly learned about the force of gravity while making a plastic ball hover over a stream of air. She learned about electricity by flipping a light switch in a kitchen with exposed framing.

COSI is located at 333 W. Broad St.

Plenty of wall-mounted hand sanitizers helped mitigate my concerns about her playing indoors with lots of hands-on activities.

COSI’s employees are more than friendly. In Kidspace, several of them whipped up a batch of “coffee dough” for kids to play with. It felt liked Play-Doh but smelled like coffee and was fun to squish and mold into fun shapes. (See recipe below.)

For $10.95, Family Friday Night can help inspire future inventors and engineers at a friendly price. Now that’s science you can take home.

For more information, visi

COSI opened in 1964 in Memorial Hall, and has since welcomed nearly 20 million visitors from all over the world. The science center moved to its current location at 333 W. Broad St. in 1999, and celebrated its tenth year there on Nov. 6. Regular hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-6 p.m. For more information and additional discounts, call 614-228-2674 or visit


4 cups un-sifted, all-purpose flour
¼ cup instant coffee
1 cup salt
1 ½ cups warm water

Dissolve coffee in warm water. In another bowl, mix flour and salt. Make a hole in the mixture and pour one cup of the coffee water into it. Mix with a fork or hands until smooth. Add more coffee water if needed. (Dough should be smooth and satiny.) Store in plastic bag to prevent dough from drying. Mold into fun shapes. Finished designs can be baked in a 300-degree oven for 1 hour (until hard). Add two coats of shellac to preserve.

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