Idea Factory - Museum of Science and Industry

The idea factory is a large play area for kids 10 and under, and especially popular for preschool ages or younger elementary school kids. Free timed tickets are required, and can be reserved just outside the entrance. A chance to be active and playful is often a welcome break for younger kids in the middle of seeing other parts of the museum.

The main area has a lot of water and plastic balls, which are fun for kids to play with. The front is more oriented towards the balls—sucking them up in a tube that sends them to the back, squirting them with water, and shooting them from tubes. In theory, kids are not supposed to run or throw the balls, but with excited kids that’s usually hard to enforce and I’ve found staff are often (but not always) easy-going about the rules.

On the left as you enter is an area especially for kids under 3 years. It’s great as a separate space for crawlers, but once my kids were walking confidently, they almost always wanted to be in the main area.

There are nice restrooms inside the idea factory, as well as a nursing station.