Hands-On Exploration: Homeschool Field Trip Highlights at the Museum of Science and Discovery in Fort Lauderdale
Visiting the Museum of Science and Discovery in Fort Lauderdale was a memorable part of our educational travel experience! With hands-on exploration being the focus, this science museum is a great option for a homeschool field trip in Southern Florida.
Educational travel is a big part of our homeschooling experience. There’s so much more to learning than sitting at home completing assignments, you know? I especially appreciate that there are ways to incorporate homeschool travel into any budget and within any radius. Some experiences may require a little more creative planning than others, but it’s still totally doable!
When I knew we’d be spending a few days in Fort Lauderdale prior to our Royal Caribbean cruise, I did my best to find fun & educational experiences to visit with my boys. They thrive in spaces that allow for hands-on and immersive learning, so visiting a science museum is usually on our list of “places to visit” whenever we have a few days to explore in a new-to-us area.
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About the Museum of Science and Discovery
Featuring two floors of science exhibits, the Museum of Science and Discovery is located in downtown Fort Lauderdale, across from Esplanade Park and a short walk from the popular Las Olas Boulevard. They’re open 362 days a year, so, if you’re in the area, the museum is likely open!
In addition to the hands-on exhibits, the Museum of Science and Discovery also an IMAX 3D theater featuring a number of documentaries as well as new-release feature films. Even better? Admission to the museum includes a same-day IMAX movie viewing!
Our Museum Experience
Because I totally forgot about checking for reciprocity before our visit, I ended up having to pay full price for our entry into the museum. I had remembered to check their Facebook page and Instagram prior to our arrival, but, alas, they weren’t running any specials at the time. I justified the price by reminding myself that IMAX tickets were included and movie tickets alone usually cost about $15/person. Plus, I was pretty sure that the boys would really enjoy themselves!
In order to make the most of our day, I made sure to arrive at the museum right when they opened. If history hast taught me anything, it’s that my boys could spend an entire day exploring a science museum. (Spoiler alert – it’s a good thing I did that because we did, indeed, stay at the Museum of Science and Discovery from open to close!)
I had hoped to walk to the museum from our hotel, but being that we’d have to walk along some busy Fort Lauderdale streets, we decided it would be best to Uber there! A quick 5-minute drive from our hotel, it was only about $10 including tip.
Right away, my oldest was already thrilled with our choice to visit. Located right outside the outdoor ticket window is a “Great Gravity Clock.” It’s basically a giant clock that’s run by an enormous, mesmerizing marble run. He’s totally into learning about robotics & mechanical tools, so he would’ve just spent the entire day watching the Great Gravity Clock if he could!
When we walked into the front doors of the museum, we were greeted by staff members at the front desk. Once it was confirmed we had museum passes, we were allowed entry and officially started our homeschool field trip!
Because there are a number of exhibits at the Museum of Science and Discovery, I’m going to focus on sharing our favorite exhibits with you!
Our top 5 favorite exhibits at the Museum of Science and Discovery, in no particular order, were:
- Florida Ecoscapes
- a number of sea creatures such as sea turtles, alligators, coral, and fish were featured in this ecosystem exhibit. We’re a family of animal lovers, so we enjoy getting to see animals up close while learning about them
- To Fly
- Ever since they got to fly planes (nearly) on their own, my boys have been interested in learning more about airplanes. Within this exhibit were a few plan simulators that my boys enjoyed.
- I also need to mention the Mars Rover experience in this exhibit. The moment we stepped in, I was reminded of Walt Disney World’s Star Tours ride because both the “vehicle” and the screen looked the same. The boys and I giggled the entire time because this ride was the cheesiest knock off of one of our favorite Disney World rides.
- Minerals Rock
- A fairly smaller exhibit, we got to see many minerals, rocks, and ammonites in this section of the museum!
- Science Park
- We will always welcome any opportunity to learn outside in gorgeous, Florida weather! Science Park has a number of hands-on experiences for kids to learn about physics & engineering. While visiting Science Park, we also saw a large green iguana!
- Otters at Play
- Otters are adorable! Being able to watch them swim & play in the water was absolutely mesmerizing!
While the boys did enjoy their time in these exhibits (and others), it was obvious that the museum was in need of some rehabilitation. Many of the learning stations were out of order or missing the pieces necessary for the experience.
Since we were staying in a hotel, I wasn’t (easily) able to pack lunches for our visit to the Museum of Science and Discovery. Instead, we relied on the food & drink being offered at the museum’s Elements Cafe.
I don’t know if we just happened to be visiting on an “off” day or if the cafe operates as we experienced all the time, but, honestly, I am going to suggest bringing your own food if possible. Not only were the food and drink options extremely overpriced (like $12 for a pre-made wrap, $4 for a can of water), but the cafe was out of nearly everything that was supposed to be offered.
The boys and I ended up sharing a large popcorn for $10 and got an ice cream treat from the Explore Store later on. Not the healthiest meal, that’s for sure, but it beat spending $40 on lunchmeat wraps that, honestly, looked pretty questionable.
AutoNation IMAX 3D Theater
As a family, we love documentaries…especially when they’re on a big screen! After our IMAX experience at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, we were looking forward to viewing another documentary.
There were a number of movie options available, but we ended up deciding to see Jane Goodall: Reasons for Hope. I had grown up reading Koko’s Kitten and, being that I was born with hearing loss, have always been amazed at the sign language/communication connection Jane Goodall had with Koko.
The documentary was, as my youngest said “absolutely inspiring.” Ever since our viewing, he’s been talking about different ways to help the earth & animals. That bit of inspiration alone made our visit to the Museum of Science and Discovery worth it.
Fort Lauderdale’s Science Museum
All in all, while there are a few aspects that need to be addressed, we did enjoy our time spent at the Museum of Science and Discovery. From the hands-on exhibits to the IMAX theater, there are experiences for visitors of all ages (yes, even I learned things!).
Have you ever traveled to Fort Lauderdale? What were some of your favorite experiences? I’m planning on visiting again and would love to know which destinations I should include in my itinerary, so go ahead and email me with your favorite things to do in Fort Lauderdale!
Until next time, stay safe and enjoy quality time with your family,
Elizabeth Dukart is a proud Georgia-based born and raised Jersey Girl, wife, and mom of 2 human boys & 1 canine boy.
Created in 2021, Elizabeth owns and publishes That Homeschool Family: a free resource for homeschooling parents and beyond! A seasoned blogger, Elizabeth previously published a popular location-specific family resource blog, but decided to “Pivot!” her blogging focus after she started homeschooling her two boys in 2020. In addition to this blog, you can follow Elizabeth’s homeschooling and family adventures on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.
When she’s not busy taking over the world or homeschooling, Elizabeth can be found listening to music (especially The Beatles & Harry Styles!), being silly with her boys, watching movies with family, shopping, or traveling!
Have a question or want to work with Elizabeth? Send her an email!