Spring Programming at the Hands On Museum and Leslie Science & Nature Center

The promise of spring brings with it anticipation and transitions. From rising temperatures to evergreen parks, playscapes and outdoor markets popping up during April and May,  Michiganders have much to look forward to over these next few months. T

A kid playing near a wooden fort.

The Hands On Museum, 220 E Ann St, Ann Arbor, and Leslie Science & Nature Center, 1831 Traver Rd, Ann Arbor, is gearing up for the season with several exciting events for children and adults. Below is a curated selection of events and programming at the nature center that Ann Arborites can take advantage of this season.

Family friendly programming

Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival

Sustainability and environmental enthusiasts will be thrilled to hear that the Leslie Science & Nature Center will be celebrating Earth Day 2024 in style! The center is collaborating with several local non-profits and agencies to host a free “zero waste” Earth Day Festival on  Sunday April 21 from 1-4 p.m.

This kid-friendly event will feature musical performances, fifteen local exhibitors from a variety of spaces and various speakers. Attendees will be able to learn about various tree species, ways to support Ann Arbor’s climate action plan and volunteer opportunities with Adopt-A-Park and Natural Area Preservation. 

Nature Playscape Grand Opening

The Leslie Science & Nature Center will be unveiling the newest section of the nature playscape which has been opening in phases since 2019. The waterplay area, launching during the Earth Day Festival on April 21, will include several exciting features designed for young explorers. Kids can even control water pumps leading to a rain garden. According to Charlie Reischl, development manager, the space “inspires comfort with nature and encourages kids to test their boundaries of exploration.” 

Critter House Open Hours

Reptile and amphibian lovers unite! Children will be love getting up close and personal with wild creatures, from sluggish turtles to agile frogs at the critter house open hours. The exhibit is open every Sunday from 12-3pm at the Leslie Science & Nature Center this spring. Admission is free, but staff welcomes donations of $5/person or $20/family.

Little Naturalists Club

Parents of preschool children between ages 2-5 may be interested in registering their kiddo for May & June sessions of the Little Naturalist Club! This unique six week program includes themed weeks, covering topics such as “What’s that Plant?”, “Community Helpers” and “Gardening Galore”. 

The program fee is $250, which includes admission to the Hands On Museum. Toddlers ages 2-3 years old can participate on Wednesdays from 9:30-11am or Fridays from 9:30-11am Preschoolers ages 4-5 years old can attend Fridays from 1-3pm. Register here

New Moon Night Hike

Imagine traversing moonlit nature trails at twilight. To celebrate the famous 2024 solar eclipse which occurred on April 8, families are invited to participate in unique night hikes at the nature center. Trail-goers will learn about nocturnal animals and learn tips and tricks for night hikes. The next new moon night hike will take place on May 10 from 7:30-9pm and registration costs $5/person. Youngsters ages 0-23 months of age are admitted free. Register here

Fireside Fun

Circling a blazing campfire and enjoying some s’mores while sharing family stories is typically a favorite summer activity. Ann Arbor residents can get an early start on this fun tradition by attending the next Fireside Fun event at the Leslie Science & Nature Center. This free event will take place on April 26 from 5:30-7pm. 

Adult programming

Cosmic Clash Trivia Night

Who said that kids have to have all the fun? On April 26 from 7:30-10pm, the Hands On Museum is opening its gates to adults ages 21+ who want to relive their childhoods and feed their inner child. During Cosmic Clash Trivia Night, participants will be whisked into space with trivia testing their knowledge of astronomy. The theme is space…the final frontier. Tickets cost $20/person/members ($30/ non-members), includes food/drinks, and can be purchased here.

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