Picture this scenario: The kids are climbing the walls on a scorching summer day and you absolutely must get them out of the house. Or you desperately need to do some shopping, and dread the idea of dragging the kids along. (Maybe you don’t need to picture either of these scenarios, maybe you’re living one of them right now.)
Enter Einstein’s Workshop, a Boston-area mecca for kids and parents who love Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). You can take your kids to the creative play space for drop-in time, sign up them for summer camp, plan a birthday party, or even pick up a gift for your favorite nerd. The thing is, Einstein’s Workshop isn’t just for the geek chic. It’s for toddlers, families who love games and puzzles, young builders, artistic kids – anyone, really. Keep reading for the 411 on cultivating your child’s inner scientist at Boston’s family-friendly makerspace.
I had been hearing so much about makerspaces, laser cutters, and 3D printers, I decided it was time to take the kiddos to check out Einstein’s Workshop, the place in the Boston area for kids to invent and create with 3D and laser technology. First of all, the space is huge. In addition to the large, open drop-in space, there are classrooms, project displays, a front desk check-in area, a gift shop, a party room, and a lounge space for adults. There is a trade-off, though: In exchange for all this wonderful space for your kids to learn, think and create, you have to schlep out to Burlington. But I think it’s worth it, especially since you can get a lot of errands done while you’re there. (Market Basket, Old Navy, JoAnn’s, H Mart Asian market, and Burlington Mall are all across the street, and if you’re looking for a place nearby to eat, Burton’s Grill happens to be my favorite.)
Drop-In Creative Playspace
For the uninitiated, the things you can do in the creative play space are somewhat limited. Unless you have taken a class and can demonstrate proficiency with the laser cutter and 3D printer, those aren’t really part of the drop-in deal. However, there really is plenty to do during your two hours of drop-in time ($12 per child, one adult per child free):
- Build with materials that are seemingly simple, but have almost endless possibilities. There are gorgeous stone Anker blocks (said to be the inspiration for LEGO), wooden Kapla blocks that will test your engineering mettle and defy gravity, Zomes, “the building ‘toy’ used by kids and Nobel Prize winners”, and of course, an abundance of LEGO. Sure, you could have any of these building tools at home, but they are very pricey to buy, and there’s something magical that happens when you bring together a group of kids and a variety of unique building materials.
- Cook up something good in the play kitchen, build with cardboard blocks, and dig into a basket of age-appropriate toys in the toddler play area. The parent lounge, complete with Tavern Puzzles, is right next to the toddler playspace. The people who run Einstein’s Workshop are parents themselves, so they think practically (which I really appreciate).
- Explore every detail of common insects and get a highly magnified view with the microscope.
- Play board games, peruse books about all things related to the maker movement, and solve puzzles.
Kids who know how to program and build with LEGO WeDo and LEGO Mindstorms can check out a laptop during drop-in time and program to their hearts’ content. If they are able to demonstrate proficiency with the 3D printer, they can use it for an additional materials fee (if it is not being used by a class).
During drop-in time, parents have the options of building and playing with their kids, relaxing (or working) in the adult lounge area, or dropping off their kids ($18 for two hours, ages 8 and up).
We had a great time building and exploring, but I think my kids would have gotten more out of the drop-in space if they were taking a class. Plus, students get nice perks, like time before or after their classes in the drop-in space, discounts in the gift shop for supplies related to the classes they are taking, and a discounted drop-in fee for siblings.
Class descriptions and projects from several classes are displayed on a large bookshelf near the front desk. We were captivated by the student designed laser cut dollhouses, LEGO Mindstorms and WeDo demos, tessellations, laser cut and 3D printed jewelry, and circuit boards. I started mentally registering my kids for all the classes offered by Einstein’s Workshop, which are for kids in kindergarten through high school. They also offer classes and drop-ins for adults and training for First Lego League coaches.
Take a look at the summer schedule: You’ll see classes for young designers, artists, Minecraft enthusiasts, budding architects, future animators, kids who are fascinated by bugs, and nascent inventors. If one of those sounds like your kid (or you want it to), you may want to consider trying a summer class. It’s not a big, long-term time commitment (3 hours per day for 5 days), and the classes will get your kids thinking, learning (without even realizing it) and developing their creativity. I don’t think you’ll have to worry about summer slide, and your child might even be inspired to do something really great this summer.
The brilliant and creative team that runs Einstein's Workshop is always coming up with new class ideas. Check out the Classes page for current summer offerings and upcoming classes, like fabric arts and re-creating Nobel Prize-winning experiments.
As if the multitude of options for drop-in time and classes weren’t enough, they also have unique and edutaining birthday parties, First Lego League teams, and build-your-own classes. Whether you go for drop-in time, a birthday party or a class, be sure to make time to check out the gift shop, which is filled with incredibly cool activities and toys for kids who love to make things.
Einstein’s Workshop | 25 Adams Street, Burlington, MA 01803 | Contact: 781-202-5645 or info@EinsteinsWorkshop.com