A dinosaur exhibit isn’t complete without a giant T. rex.
A dinosaur exhibit isn’t complete without a giant T. rex.

New Dinosaur Exhibit at The Center for Science, Teaching and Learning

Young paleontologists no longer have to trek into the city to get a dose of dinosaur. The Center for Science, Teaching and Learning in Rockville Center has a new exhibit featuring fossils, animatronic dinosaurs, and models. There are even live animals, so kids can learn about how dinosaurs are related to today's animals.

Long Island has no shortage of museums or zoos for little learners. Remember to check your local library for free museum passes. 


Tyrannosaurus Rex greets visitors at the new Dinosaur Exhibit.

Located at Tanglewood Preserve in Rockville Center, The Center for Science, Teaching and Learning has made an educational, beautiful and impressive dinosaur exhibit for Long Islanders. While most of the dinosaurs and their related exhibits are in one room, it is a spectacular space and has the feel of a much larger museum. Unlike some bigger museums, which may leave you wandering without guidance, there are friendly staff members here to greet you and explain about the different exhibits. They help children with the interactive portions of the museum and offer unique facts that even adults can learn from. 

There is plenty of street parking. As you enter the property, you can choose to explore the preserve and its pond for free or enter the museum. There is a small gift shop with dinosaur toys. If you're going to splurge, try to save it for last. Kids will want to have their hands free so they can play with the interactive exhibits. 

The first room is mostly empty, with some live rabbits and two other live animal exhibits; stick insects and turtles. Staff will be happy to elaborate on the signage above the exhibits and explain how various animals' adaptations relate to those of the dinosaurs. A small outdoor walkway, with a giant model T-Rex, will greet you as you enter the next building which houses most of the exhibit. 


These Hadrosaur eggs won’t be hatching anytime soon!

The theme of the main room is wonderful, and fully immerses you in the exhibits. Like the previous room, there are some live animals. A snake, Sun Conures and tree frogs are among the animals kids will find. A lot is neatly packed into this relatively small space, yet it doesn't feel crowded. There is a T-Rex and Centrosaurus skull,  full skeletons of Allosaurus, Camarasaurus, Maiasaura and more. There are also smaller skeletal pieces displayed as well as a set of Hadrosaur eggs. Large, animatronic models include the Ankylosaurus and Stegosauraus. While their heads and tails move, and they make noise, it's not at all frightening. The models are realistic and high-quality. There are also large and small dinosaur models, mostly feathered ones such as the Struthiomimus, that don't move or make noise. 


Interactive experiences help kids learn about different dinosaur features.

Each exhibit features facts, and many have interactive features, some are even accessible to toddlers. Older children can experiment to see which sharp bone (a tooth, a spike, a claw, etc.) created a hole in another bone. Little ones can play with wooden "long neck" dinosaurs and help them reach the leaves of trees. There is a puzzle to match a tooth to a tool that represents its shape, as well as what the dinosaur would eat with that type of tooth. There are plenty of educational experiences embedded in these interactive, playful portions of the exhibit. 

 

Outside there are more live animals. Peafowl, emus and owls are the highlights. There is another large dinosaur model next to a dig site, where kids can use brushes to swipe away rocks revealing dinosaur bones. While the main exhibit is inside, it's better to go on a nice day, since there is still plenty to see and do outside. 


Interactive experiences help kids learn about different dinosaur features.

A trip to The Center of Science, Teaching and Learning is a must-do for families with dinosaur lovers. The exhibits are high quality, and easily rival those of much larger museums. One thing to note, though: Triceratops fans might be disappointed. There is no skeleton or 3D model of this beloved dino, but even so, my triceratops-loving toddler had a blast. 

The Center for Science, Teaching and Learning is open 7 days a week, 10am - 4pm. Admissions is $15 for adults, $12 for children one and over. 

Photos by the author

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