Cosi – Sherlock Holmes Exhibit


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COSI is a Columbus classic destination. If you were a child in the 80s, you likely have fond memories of “the old COSI” on Broad Street: the Great Gravity Gizmo in the entry way, the animatronic presidents,  the hard plastic seats in the planetarium, walking across the street to the first Wendy’s Restaurant (Wanna take a trip down memory lane? Check this out.… ) To enjoy “the new COSI”, you need to forget about the old one and enjoy it in it’s own right. With traveling exhibits, updated technology, and lots of hands on; COSI is a great cold day ‘get the kids out’ activity. Just make sure to bring your credit card.

With yet another day off school, we decided to go and check out the newly opened Sherlock Holmes Exhibit (officially “The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes”.) Note, this special exhibit is an extra fee on top of the regular entrance fee.

The Crew:

I took four kids to this exhibit – ages 3, 6, 9, and 12.

The Experience:

You will receive a timed ticket to enter exhibit, so plan accordingly. We opted for the very next time slot so that we could go straight to the exhibit and go through it before the kids started to melt and so that I didn’t have to pull them out of something to get there on time. Upon entering the exhibit, you are told that there are no cameras/photography allowed, which is pretty standard for a traveling exhibit. Also, no cell phones. You are asked to step outside if you need to make/take a phone call/text.  (You can handle it…it took us about 90 minutes to get through… just long enough that your texting fingers will get twitchy, but hang in there… remember It’s quality time with the kids.)

This exhibit is nicely broken up into a few different sections. You’ll learn about the history of the Sherlock stories, see some movie artifacts, explore early forensic techniques, and try to solve the mystery of a crime scene. You are each given a little notebook to track your progress through the exhibit and to participate in the different displays. There are several different stations where you stop and figure something out then mark the book with a stamp, punch, rubbing, or impression. And, like any good exhibit, there is a gift shop at the end.

The kids got a little bored with the museum style part of the exhibit in the first section. They aren’t much for reading placards and history, so we moved through this section a bit quicker than I would have liked. There was a good bit of information on why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote what he did.

The middle of the exhibit is much more hands on.  There are a variety of stations where you will learn about various developments of the period (ballistics, cosmetics, Scotland Yard.) The 3-year old enjoyed stamping her book at each station. The older three seemed to give it some effort and hopefully learned something.IMG_20140217_125222_106

Eventually you come upon a crime scene. You are given different elements of the scene to observe and record in your notebook. Then you head off to different stations to learn and try to deduce what really happened.  If you figure out all of the right answers you get a secret message at the end.

The three older kids seemed to really get into the process. They were able to figure out most of the stations with just a little direction from me. There is one chemistry station that none of them seemed to get (and, honestly, i found rather confusing and overwhelming). Several times I caught them talking to each other trying to work out what they think happened. The 3 year old had fun stamping her book with help from the big ones. This exhibit held my attention as well. You should note that Blood Spatter Analysis is one section of this. There are machines that spray colored water to show different blood spatter patterns so I didn’t find it to be graphic. There is also talk of someone getting shot and possibly murdered.

At the end there was a bit of a “that’s it?” feeling for the kids. There is a long narrative that explains what really happened and pulls everything together.  This was too much reading for the kids and was written in the style of Sherlock Holmes, which they didn’t really understand.

We explored some of the other exhibits after lunch and made a full day of it.  COSI has a new exhibit on Energy which is nicely done. More on it in a future post.

Tips We Learned:

  • This exhibit took about 90 minutes for us to go through. This was a good chuck of our day at COSI and we didn’t have time to see some of the other exhibits we wanted to.
  • Little kids won’t get too much out of this one, but there seems to be enough stamping of paper and pushing of buttons to keep them occupied.
  • If you are sensitive to crime scenes, stab wounds, and blood (or if you wish to keep your kids away from these things), this exhibit may not be for you. Go with solo before hand to see it if you are concerned. My personal opinion was that it was handled well and scientifically.
  • Cheap Child Care?Use the lockers. Then you aren’t trying to carry your coats with you in the exhibit. It’s a $1 well spent. The lockers are plenty large enough. … and if need be serve as child care..kidding.

What It Cost:
One problem I have with COSI is that I find it to be too expensive. We don’t go all that often because of the cost. If you do go frequently a membership is well worth it. We had one for a couple of years and got COSI’d out. So now we just go once or twice a year.

Here is what we spent this trip:

  • General Parking in the lot – $5 (take your parking ticket in with you to get it validated. The lot is a public parking lot and costs a bit more if you don’t pay for parking inside COSI.)
  • 1 Adult – $25.95 (General exhibits are $17.95, Sherlock is another $8.)
  • 4 Kids – $20.95 each (General exhibits are $12.95, Sherlock is another $8)
  • 1 Locker – $1
  • We packed our lunch to save there.  There is a decent cafe onsite. – $0
  • But I caved on snacks. There is a really cool machine that does frozen yogurt…for $5/each.  – $20

I had a coupon for one free kid which saved us $12.95.  So our total for 5 of us was $122.80. This is definitely on the high end for us for entertainment but it was a great day and worth the splurge.


Metro Parks Winter Hike Series

2013-01-19 10.27.32Over the last few seasons, we have been participating in the Columbus Metro Parks hike series. These organized hikes are a great way to get out and see the different Metro Parks in the area.  In the winter they have hot food and beverages available after the hike at no cost. Hikes vary in length and there are usually 2 or 3 lengths available at each event.

Currently, we are in the middle of the 2013 Winter Hike Series.  For the Winter Hikes, if you complete 7 of them, you can get a patch.  The first year you get an owl patch, then each subsequent year you receive a year patch to go with it. You’ll see several people with their hiking vests and patches on.  There are certainly some very dedicated participants of these events. If you miss one of the organized hikes, you can go visit the park on your own, then tell them at the next one and they’ll mark it off for you.  This is all done on the honor system.

Last weekend, my mom and I went to the Prairie Oaks hike.  I had never been out to Prairie Oaks before, so it was a good chance to check it out.  The hike was a 2.5 mile loop around a couple of the lakes.  Afterwards, they had hot chicken and noodles, coffee, and Hot Cocoa.  They also had a fire going.

2013-01-19 11.22.15This weekend, we took the kids and went to the Scioto Audubon hike. Because we had the  kids with us, we opted to just do the 1 mile loop.  This took us through the wetland area they are developing then down along the river and back to the Grange Insurance Audubon Center (GIAC).  They had Chili and hot beverages inside which gave us the opportunity to check out the exhibits in the GIAC (and the chance to use a real bathroom!).

At all of the hikes, Snowville Creamery offers samples of their milk and other products. This weekend they had their new yogurt to taste.  OH MY! it was good.  I prefer unsweetened yogurt so i really liked it.  Mom and the kids thought it was too bitter.  To each their own. Snowville is one of my favorites and is normally the milk that I buy. I love seeing them out at community events.  If you follow them on Facebook, you’re also treated to “daily doses of cute” – pictures of their cows doing whatever cows do.

Tips we learned:

  • I bought the kids each a trekking pole. This seems to reduce their whining about ‘having to go’ a little bit.
  • Some of the hikes can be muddy depending on the weather, a change of shoes in the car is a good plan especially if you are going somewhere after.
  • Don’t forget your card so you can get punches as subsequent hikes.

What it cost:

  • NOTHING! These are free community events


AAA Great Vacations Expo – Finding Adventures

Yesterday we went to the AAA Great Vacations Expo.  I’m not sure how often this one comes around, I expect it’s an annual thing, but it was well worth the minimal cost and time.  If you have nothing to do today, it could be worth a trip.

We spent a couple of hours wandering around among the booths and picking up a bunch of information.  I probably collected more paper for the recycling bin than was necessary, but I was looking for ideas of things to do.  They had booths for everything from major travel companies and resorts to the county & city visitor’s bureaus for Ohio and the surrounding states.

The Metro Parks had a really nice exhibit with an animal scavenger hunt that my daughter (8) loved.  She got a small trinket out of the effort, which she was more than happy with.  She also made a horse out of a yard stick and a cut out horse head from Marmon Valley Farms’ exhibit. The Farm at Walnut Creek had a couple of live animals that you could see and touch. (They had one that said “Camel” that looked an awful lot like a llama to me, and a bird of some sort.

My son (11) was more interested in the booths setup by every professional sport team in the city.  We now have ticket and schedule info for the Columbus Crew, Columbus Clippers, the Blue Jackets, and the Ohio Machine (Lacrosse).

There were other kids activities through out the exhibits – COSI had a little “try this” thing, one county had a Flight Simulator that both kids enjoyed (it was very simple, but they thought it was fun), and there was lots of candy to pick up at different places.

They had a passport activity for the kids to do which they enjoyed but mildly irritated me.  The kids each received a passport and had to get it stamped at several locations (all of them were the major sponsors of the event).  They then turned this back in for “a chance to win a Disney Vacation for 4”.  They did have a lot of fun finding the places to get the stamps. However, depending on how you look at it, this has become a ‘teachable moment’ that I’ve had to deal with… “We probably won’t win.”… “They will call us if we do, but don’t expect that we will.”…. “I don’t know when they will call. But probably not until after Sunday, and they probably won’t call.”….”No, i don’t know when we will go if we win, but we probably won’t win.”..  The kids got nothing else out of the activity.  It would have been nice if they got some small thing for their efforts.  As much as I hate all that little crap, they were left with nothing other than the ability to annoy me with questions about when we will get to go to Disney.

All-in-all, we had a nice time and had fun.  My son even remarked on the way out, “Well, that was a lot more fun than I expected.”.  And, I have to agree.  Now.. off to read through the volumes of information I have and come up with some new adventures for us this year.

Things we learned:

  • I picked up a ton of paper, which got rather heavy by the end. I saw several people bring their own bags to carry all of this information.  Next time I’ll take a better bag that goes over my shoulder for lugging around our finds.
  • There were a few wineries that were offering tastings for a small fee (in Ohio, it’s illegal to give away alcohol for free) and one exhibit had a small bar setup. Bring a few dollars cash if you want to have a taste.
  • Warn the kids ahead of time about what a “contest” is and what “chance to win” means.
  • If you were ready to book a vacation, you could probably get a good deal here.

What we spent:

  • With a AAA membership, each adult was $6 ($9 if you don’t have a AAA membership).  The kids were both free (16 and under).
  • Parking was $7 which I found a bit ridiculous.  $5 wouldn’t have bothered me.
  • They did have food options, but we ate lunch before we went.
  • Grand total for us: $19 (two adults, two kids, parking)

* Grandma went with us and wore her pedometer.  By her calculation, we walked about a mile total.. not too bad.

Skiing Adventures – Mad River Mountain

Mommy Points:  4

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For our first Family Adventure, I took the kids skiing at Mad River Mountain. We had a blast!

I took the kids skiing for the first time almost 2 years ago.  At that time, I made them participate in the Kids Adventure Place program.  I thought the programs was great, but the kids were adamant about not taking a lesson this time around.
Pros: The program teaches them to Ski and was well done, they get Hot Cocoa in the middle, I would get a couple of hours to ski on something other than the bunny hill.
Cons: the kids were already fighting it, it costs about $10 per kid over just a lift ticket and equipment rental.

In the end, we agreed that we would try skiing without the lesson first. But if we were having a lot of problems then they would have to take a lesson.  With this decision, I had to set my own expectations for the day – I wouldn’t “really get to ski” and would be on the beginner hill the whole day and I would have to be extra patient.  And, our day went really well! Setting my own expectations was the key to my being happy with the day.  If I had gone in hoping to go down the bigger hills, I would have been frustrated and disappointed.

We arrived at about 2:00 p.m. It took us about 30 minutes to get boots fitted, snow pants on, and skis rented.  Then we headed off to the beginner hill. The kids seemed to remember the basics right away.  Perhaps skiing is a lot like riding a bike – you never forget how to do it and you can jump right back to where you left off rather quickly.

The beginner area has a carpet lift, which is by far the easiest to manage but is also the slowest. There is also a “Discovery” area with a tow rope.  The 8 year old mastered that, but the 11 year old struggled a bit.  By the end of our day, the kids were skiing well enough that I could have taken them down the longer easy (Green Circle) hills, but I was not ready to manage the chair lift or the big hill with both kids at the same time.  We had moments of really really busy and then times when we had much more space. After about 4:30, it got steadily busier.  We were there on a Friday, so the Friday Night crowd (groups of high school and college kids) started coming in after dinner time.

The day we went was really quite cold and had a fairly low wind chill.  It was pretty breezy and our exposed skin got really cold. We skied for about 90 minutes then needed to go in and warm up.  We had a snack at the bar which is a nice place to hang out and people watch.  We went back out for another hour or so and decided we were all hungry and cold and tired and starting to get mean.  So, back into the bar for a pizza and hot cocoa (and a beer for mom). After about an hour inside, we were in much better moods and headed back out.  We ended up staying out skiing until 9:30.  The wind died down after dark and it was a little more comfortable.

The food in the bar was pretty good for bar food.  Popcorn and nachos was the standard concession stand fare.  The pizza was made on a frozen crust but the toppings were added there.  It wasn’t too bad.  The hot cocoa was best deal – it even came with whipped cream. The beer prices were not outrageous and were about what I expected and they had an OK selection.

Tips from our Adventure:

  • Two kids and one adult worked out OK for us, but it would have been helpful to have another adult around.  I would have liked to take the kids down the bigger hill, but I really didn’t think I could safely manage the chair lift and a longer hill with two kids at once, and I wasn’t going to leave one standing alone at the bottom.
  • My son and I had some problems with our feet hurting in our boots. I think we needed one size bigger boots than we had.  Make sure boots are comfy when you try them on!
  • After our dinner, someone accidentally took my rental skis. I was happily surprised that it was no problem to just go and get another pair. Just go back to the rental building and tell them what happened.
  • I forgot to charge my point & shoot camera battery. Using my phone as a camera was difficult – I wanted to keep my gloves on which doesn’t work with the phone, and the phone camera is slower at taking pictures than the point and shoot.

What we spent:

This was a fairly expensive adventure for us.  I’ve resolved this year to have more adventures and spending on adventures is OK (rather than spending on stuff), but I’m also trying to get out of credit card debt. We were there a total of 7 1/2 hours with 30 minutes of getting ready, 5 hours worth of skiing, and about 2 hours of taking breaks to eat/warm up).  Looking quickly at the season passes, we would need to go 8 times per season (with rentals) to make the costs work out.   Here was the break down of our day:

  • Lift tickets and ski rental for 2 kids and 1 adult –  $165 total (Kids lift tickets were $25 and rental was $25, My lift ticket was $35 and rental was $30)
  • Snack of popcorn, nachos, and water (we shared) – $7
  • Dinner of regular pizza with 1/2 cheese, 1/2 peperoni and 2 hot cocoas – $20
  • Beer for mom (large Yuengling..mmmm) – $6
  • Total for the day was just about $200

I think I’m going to try the Snow Angels program at Mad River for a mommy only adventure! I’d love to try snow boarding, and this looks like a good way to do it.

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