The tale of an Adler Planetarium family: It’s not (all) about the kids
We’ve been an Adler family since our son, Hudson, picked up his first toy space shuttle and never put it down. I remember his first trip—when he was perhaps three years old—and the look of wonder on his face as it dawned on him that the rockets, the planets, the stars, and moon were all real things, not just pictures in a book. From that day, he’s been devoted to understanding them all more fully.
We’ve been members ever since. Even though we now live near Joliet, we always make it to the Adler several times a year. The membership perks make it easy to line up the whole day’s itinerary right when you walk in since it includes complimentary tickets to the sky shows and other experiences. It’s a great way to structure the day’s visit, and you always have something exciting to move on to next.
Now that he’s nine, Hudson has no problem sharing his favorite stops along the way. I asked him to tell me how he’d like to spend his next visit; the whole list wouldn’t fit here but here are the highlights.
1. Mission Moon and the James Lovell exhibit are at the top of the list. Captain Lovell’s life story really brings his accomplishments, and those of the entire Moon program, down to a relatable level. It makes a career in space exploration seem truly achievable when you learn that your hero grew up with the same dreams you have.
2. The pop-up science stations are always a hit, particularly the make-your-own-paper stomp rocket projects. Hudson’s proudest moment was lodging one of them on a hard-to-hit ledge in the Our Solar System exhibit. Kudos to the Adler volunteers who have to retrieve all these “accomplishments” at the end of the day!
3. In a testament to his personal history with the Planetarium, he still loves to visit the Planet Explorers area, build towers of foam blocks and knock them down in slow motion with the X-Mover. Destination Solar System keeps him on the edge of his seat every time, too.
4. Pretty much everything on the lower level is a must-see, now that he’s overcome his fear of the teeth-rattling “big bang” presentation in The Universe: A Walk through Space and Time.
My wife, Tawnie, also loves rediscovering the place she knew as a kid herself. She tells me that old favorites, seen through our son’s eyes, bring a fresh thrill about the Universe and our place in it. For my part, I love digging into the more advanced science and history of sky exploration. Being members of the Adler means that we can return as often as we like to get a fresh dose of wonder.
We’re an Adler family, and will be for a very long time to come.