COSI Columbus top science center in U.S. for families

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

COSI Columbus is the family-friendliest science center in the country, according to Parents magazine. The museum beat about 50 other science centers that have kid-oriented exhibits, including well-known destinations such as the Exploratorium in San Francisco and the Museum of Science in Boston.

"In our early days, we might have emulated those science centers," said David Cheseborough, COSI president and chief executive. "Now we feel great we can stand alongside them."

The magazine rankings were determined based on museum exhibits and special events as well as camps, classes and other educational programs. Also considered were factors such as ticket prices, dining options and stroller accessibility.

Karen Cicero, an editor at Parents, said COSI's accessibility to children 5 or younger is impressive for a science center. "I think that's what makes it stand out," she said. "It's possible to introduce your young child to these very basic science concepts. When they're introduced more formally, their impressions are very positive because of their cool experiences in the past."

COSI has been focused on expanding its learning opportunities, launching within the past two years summer camps, family workshops and an educational outreach program, Cheseborough said.

And museum visits have increased--from 482,088 in fiscal year 2005 to 536,359 in the fiscal year ended June 30--as COSI has added a monthly reduced-admission event, Family Friday Night. "We want to be the go-to place for families," Cheseborough said. "It's more than just a destination; it's an ongoing learning resource."

A spokesman for the Association of Science-Technology Centers in Washington said the center's top ranking could help it draw visitors from outside the region.

"Science centers are certainly travel destinations for families," he said. "When you're in a national magazine like Parents, I would think this would only help establish a national reputation."