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STEM-Inspired Museums & Play Places

These local and regional museums, planetariums, and more allow kids to see STEM principals — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — up-close and in action!

Many of the places below also participate in reciprocal museum programs. Click here to learn more about how these programs make it easier for families to visit family-loved science centers, museums, and related locally and nationally.

Virginia | Maryland | Washington, DC

Children’s Science Center Lab
11948 Fair Oaks Mall, Ste. L, Fairfax, VA 22033
Connect: Online | Facebook | Twitter | (703) 648-3130
See a photo review here

About 11-miles from Dulles International Airport

The recently opened Children’s Science Center Lab precedes The Children’s Science Center, set to open in 2020 in Loudoun County, which will offer interactive and hands-on exhibits, activities, and other programs focused on STEM. The Lab, located in Fair Oaks Mall, provides an educational and fun environment for families and kids of all ages via four interactive exploration centers. The Lab is well-staffed with eager and attentive employees ready to help, educate, and encourage.

MILL Studio at Gum Spring Library
24600 Millstream Drive, Stone Ridge, VA 20105
Connect: Online | Facebook |Twitter | (571) 258-3838

Recently, the Loudoun County Library system debuted the opening of the Makers in Loudoun Libraries Studio (MILL for short), which is the first dedicated maker space in the Loudoun Library System. The MILL Studio space features several 3D printers, two Silhouette Cameo Cutters, a sound recording booth with software and microphones, a green screen set and camera, robots, and circuitry/ microprocessor kits to teach computer programming. This is the perfect spot to encourage STEM learning for kids and teens. Check with Gum Spring Library soon to learn about upcoming classes and programs on the featured technology. A user agreement and LCPL card are required to use the space.

David M. Brown Planetarium
1426 North Quincy St., Arlington, VA 22207
Connect: Online | (703) 228-6070

Run via Arlington Public Schools, The David M. Brown Planetarium provides a multitude of programs for public and school group viewing. During the school year, the planetarium shows programs for public viewing on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For additional information, please visit the Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium.

Irene V. Hylton Planetarium
14051 Spriggs Rd., Woodbridge, VA 22193
Connect: Online | (703) 580-4000

The planetarium at CD Hylton Senior High School, also known as the Skydome Planetarium, contains a star projector capable of projecting 1,354 stars, the five visible eye planets, moon phasing, daily and yearly motion, the celestial coordinates, and other reference lines on a thirty-foot curved dome. Special effect projectors create solar and lunar eclipses, aurora display, meteor and meteor showers. There aren’t currently any public shows scheduled, however, check back often, as the shows are breathtaking, hypnotic, and worth the drive.

Science Museum of Virginia
2500 West Broad St., Richmond, VA 23220
Connect: Online | Facebook | Twitter | (804) 864-1400

The Science Museum of Virginia offers a day full of wonder and learning for both kids and adults alike. With historic architecture as its backdrop, this museum is full of innovative and cutting-edge exhibits and activities. The exhibits are intentionally designed to provoke creativity and expand your mind, all while learning about life around us — from animals andplanets to bioethics and gravity. Don’t miss out on the 360-degree movie experience in ‘The Dome’ or any of their Live Science presentations, which have been known to include cow eye dissection and even rat basketball!

Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum
19 West Cork St., Winchester, VA 22601
Connect: Online | Facebook | Twitter | (540) 722-2020
See a photo review here

About 52-miles from Dulles International Airport

The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum moved to its new location in Winchester, VA in 2014 and it is still worth the drive! This kid-focused museum features 3-stories of exhibits, including an Encounter Zone, Action Zone, Explore Zone, and Sky Level. Each boasts loads of touch and play areas — with exhibits that encourage problem-solving, creative thinking, and collaboration. Best of all, the kids don’t know they are learning — they just think they are having a great time!

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy., Chantilly, VA 20151
Connect: Online | Facebook | Twitter | (703) 572-4118
See a photo review here

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, a Smithsonian museum, is a great place for not just aerial enthusiasts — but anything that has to do with air and space! Its two huge hangars display thousands of aviation and space artifacts. The Center also boasts an IMAX Theater and an observation tower, which gives you a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of Washington Dulles International Airport and the surrounding area.

More regional opportunities include:

Virginia Air and Space Center (Hampton, VA)
Children’s Museum of Virginia
(Portsmouth, VA)
Science Museum of Western Virginia (Roanoke, VA)
Virginia Discovery Museum (Charlottesville, VA)
Virginia Living Museum (Newport News, VA)
Virginia Museum of Natural History (Martinsville, VA)

Have a favorite we didn’t mention? Drop us an email and let us know here.

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