We know that STEM doesn’t just live inside books, computers, or labs. It’s all around us, in the plants we grow and animals we raise, in the rocks beneath our feet, and even in the air we breathe.
Part of why we love what we do at Barton Hill Farms is that we get to introduce kids and adults to some of the science of farming. It makes STEM feel real, instead of abstract. And we’re just one of the places in Central Texas where you can learn more about the way the world works.
Here’s a list of 10 fun STEM-based things to do in Austin to keep that excitement alive!
STEM-Based Things To Do in Austin With Kids
Get Hands-On at The Thinkery
The Thinkery is Austin’s beloved children’s museum. Exhibits spread across three stories encourage kids to turn learning into play and play into learning. They can splash and learn about the flow of water in the Currents room, and practice problem solving in the Innovators’ Workshop. The Light Lab explores color and shadow in a dim hall, and an annually rotating exhibit provides something new every year.
Take a Trip Out to the Hill Country Science Mill
This science museum lives inside a repurposed grain mill in Johnson City. While it’s a bit of a drive from the Austin city limits, it’s absolutely worth the trek if you have science-minded kiddos! The Science Mill has over 50 STEM-based exhibits on topics like animals, water, light, the human body, engineering and chemical reactions.
Outside, the Science & Art Park has even more to do. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it.
Learn About The Local Habitat at the Austin Nature & Science Center
On the western edge of Zilker Park, the Austin Science & Nature Center gets kids interested in the local ecosystem in their hometown. In the Naturalist Workshop, kids can touch bones, fur, rocks, and more. The Dino Pit lets them dig for fossils like a real paleontologist. Indoor and outdoor wildlife exhibits introduce them to some of the native animals of Central Texas.
Take Camps and Classes at Mad Science
For a slightly more structured approach, enroll the kids in a workshop at Mad Science in Southwest Austin. Coded messages, robots, rockets, strange goo, and other exciting science and tech wonders await at their camps. These are for the kids only, so parents will have some free time while the little scientists explore.
Explore Native Plants at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Dedicated to the flora of Central Texas, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has over 900 species of native plants. It’s a place to learn but also to play, with interactive outdoor installations for kids to climb and explore along the trails. Signs throughout identify plant life and provide an education on the flowers, pollinators, and landscape all around.
STEM-Based Things To Do in Austin For Adults (And Kids Too!)
Visit the Hall of Geology & Paleontology at the Texas Memorial Museum
You’d be forgiven for not knowing about the Texas Memorial Museum. It seems to be a well-kept secret! Established in 1936 as the state’s first natural history museum, it has collected over 5 million specimens. On the first floor, you’ll find the Hall of Geology & Paleontology, complete with dinosaur fossils, meteorites, crystals, and other Texas treasures.
Watch a Science Film at Bullock IMAX
The Bullock Texas State History Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the Lone Star State. It also has an IMAX theater that shows both blockbusters and science and nature-themed films. Past showings included Turtle Odyssey, Flight of the Butterflies, Voyage of Time, and Humpback Whales. Museums are great, but watching a film on the biggest screen in Texas is good too.
Explore Inner Space Cavern
The caves and tunnels at Inner Space Cavern were undisturbed for over 10,000 years. Discovered by the Texas Highway Department in 1963, they’re now open to visitors. The Adventure Tour and Hidden Passages Tour are simpler walking routes. But the Wild Cave Tour is over three hours of crawling, climbing, and wedging yourself through tight passages. Prepare to get dirty on this one while you learn about the formation of this natural wonder.
Combine Technology and Art at Wonderspaces
Interactive art pieces intersect with technology at Wonderspaces in Northeast Austin. Currently housing 13 different exhibits, the rooms invite visitors to either sit and absorb, or to become part of the art. In the Body Paint exhibit, visitors’ movement creates splashes of color across the walls, turning them into human paintbrushes. In SUN, visitors can control the rising and setting of the sun, and see how it impacts the light and atmosphere on the screen.
Take the Learning Outside at Science Under the Stars
Science Under the Stars is an outdoor lecture series organized by graduate students from the University of Texas’ Department of Integrative Biology. The series provides an opportunity for grad students to share what they’re passionate about, and for the layperson to get an introduction to a new scientific topic. Past lectures include “Dust to Dust: The Lifecycle of Stars in Our Universe,” and “Permaculture Principles in the Sustainable Food Movement.”
That last one is right up our alley!
The Fall Festival is Coming Soon!
Soon there will be another STEM-based activity to do in the Austin-area—our annual Fall Festival and Pumpkin Patch. Make sure to sign up for our email list so you’ll be first to get any updates and ticketing announcements!