One of the greatest parts about volunteering with Agata and her family through t-oigo is that I have the opportunity to visit some really cool places while spending quality time with the entire family. One of these places has been CosmoCaixa, which is Madrid’s science center. The various areas in the exhibit that we visited included a planetarium, a fossils area, a natural sciences area, Toca Toca and microscopic exhibit as their “temporary exhibit.” Despite being fairly small, CC was fun, interesting, and incredibly interactive, making it the ideal spot to take a 6 and 8 year old for an afternoon.
Our first stop was to the planetarium, which was immediately my favorite place–once we were seated, the “sky” shifted in color from white-blue, to a brighter blue, to the colors of a sunset, to the deep blues and violets of night, and was suddenly full of stars and marked constellations. It was fun to be able to recognize some of the constellations that I had often recognized but never knew their names! The video we watched there was focused on the planets, presented by a monotone speaker, and was a bit lengthy for adults and children alike to sit through. One of the things I did notice was the presence of Pluto: despite not being considered a planet anymore, Pluto just chills on the edge of the solar system, present but unnamed. I won’t lie–I was definitely saddened by that fact (bring back our ninth planet, science!!)
After we left the planetarium, we had a good thirty minutes or so to kill before the next presentation began, so we explored the fossils section. This area contained some real quality fossils–I was impressed! After exploring a little while, we returned to the entrance of the next presentation. Since it was focused on children only, Lola and I dropped Agata and Claudia off at it and then proceeded to explore the rest of the natural sciences exhibit. This area was especially cool, because it was incredibly hands on. Here, you could experiment with electricity and force, test your five senses, and view simulators of tornadoes, whirlpools, and other weather occurrences.
Once the girls were done with the children’s presentation, we made our way back through the natural sciences exhibit as we waited for the final presentation called Toca Toca. This presentation would give the audience an opportunity to learn about and touch various animals in the exhibit, so obviously I was ecstatic for this opportunity. What can I say? I love animals and I love touching animals. We were introduced to starfish and sea cucumbers, tortoises and turtles, and a snake during the presentation. Very cool!! It was really fun to watch some of the kids’ reactions to the new animals, especially when it came to the snake. All it did for me was make me miss my little Dimka!
Afterward, we were given some time to look at the other animals in the exhibit that we wouldn’t be able to touch, including fish, an iguana, baby alligators, dart frogs, a HUGE albino Burmese python, a couple of venomous snakes, and different insects. As a herp lover (well, as a lover of all things reptile/amphibian), I was really disappointed in the inadequate sizes of the habitats. Though a couple of the animals had decent-sized habitats, the majority were tanks of 30 gallons or less and contained either too big of an animal or too many for that sized container. Sigh.
Our final stop before leaving the museum was the temporary exhibit which featured the various microscopic organisms that can be seen at different magnifications, and each magnification had its own separate station to explore. I was really interested in this exhibit because, once again, each station was interactive. Additionally, they had some incredible photographs in each station of various organisms, so it was visually appealing to boot!
Our exploration of CosmoCaixa came to a close shortly after visiting the temporary exhibit, as by that time we were all getting hungry and the remainder of the rooms (Newton and Einstein) had already been closed for the lunch hour. All in all, we had a fantastic time! Unfortunately, I found out from Lola just the other day that CosmoCaixa‘s doors have been permanently closed due to lack of funding. Very sad news indeed, since museums such as this one are so very valuable in a child’s life. Así es la vida.