I wish I would have re-read this post from Debbie at DeliciousBaby the night before we went. We had a little trouble getting started at OMSI. Not getting there, we asked the front desk staff and our hotel and got good walking directions, but once we got there.
When we paid our $40 (!!!!) admission (not including any of the additional items like the submarine), they did not give us a map. So we just headed up the escalator and ended up in the Life Sciences room. We spent about 15 minutes there but clearly everything was targeted at an older crowd than we had (our boys are 6 and almost 4). I knew I had heard there were hands on activities for little ones and left the family in there to scope it out.
Sure enough, right next door was the Science Playground which is geared towards 6 year olds and younger. It was pretty crowded but our kids did not care at all. They loved it. There were so many activities they enjoyed. They spent almost 1 hour solely in the sand area and eventually we decided to move them along to something else. Is it possible they could have played there all day? They spent about 30 minutes at the amazing water table and got totally soaked, even in the smocks provided. Definitely wear the smock and the boots and BRING A CHANGE OF CLOTHES. I knew it had been suggested to do that, but my kids don't usually get wet in water tables. Bring the change of clothes - they were DRENCHED!
There are also art projects, a grocere store, buckets that go up and down on a pulley and so many other fun things for younger kids to do. After several hours in the Science Playground, we moved downstairs to the Turbine Hall. This is the most amazing part of the museum. If we would have understood the layout of the place, we would have headed straight here when we arrived.
The hands-on activities here are suited for bigger kids or younger kids with their parents assistance. There were so many interesting things here that my kids really loved. Our favorites were probably the ball room (I don't even know how to explain it - it was just totally cool. Go and see it!) or the bottle rockets. We also did actual chemistry labs together and built buildings to withstand earthquakes.
We spent the entire day there. We got there a few minutes after they opened at 9:30 and left right at 5pm as they were closing. We went on a Friday and there were lot of people there but it wasn't so bad we could not do everything we wanted. I imagine it might be harder on the weekends. It was a great day that we all enjoyed even if it totally wore us all out.
*Note: I have written a bunch of posts about Portland so if you want to read more, click on the Portland Label at the end of the post, and you will see all the Portland entries.