The Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City, Texas is a fantastic STEM-concept museum. We sent Addie out there to try it out with her younger children to find the fun things for younger kids at the Hill Country Science Mill.
The Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City, Texas is a STEM-concept museum geared towards older kids. After reading Rebecca’s post, we really wanted to check it out, but I was unsure how well my two young boys (who are 4 and 7) would like it. Would they be able to understand any of the exhibits? I’m happy to report that they absolutely loved it and we had the best time! We definitely had to explain every exhibit to them, but my 7 year old was able to take over and do things for himself in no time and even my young 4 year old stayed engaged and enjoyed learning at every exhibit we tried.
If you are unsure if it will be worth the drive out to Johnson City if you only have younger kids, read on to see how they will enjoy themselves just as much as older kids at the Hill Country Science Mill!
8 Fun Things for Younger Kids at the Hill Country Science Mill
As Rebecca mentioned in her post on the museum, the very first thing you do when you arrive is make an avatar passport. My young boys were very excited about this part. They liked designing their robots and searching for the next kiosk so they could scan their passport along the way through the museum. This fun and interactive element made the trip extra special and fun!
Cell Phone Disco
One of the very first exhibits at the museum ended up being one of our favorites. The interactive cell phone lights at the Cell Phone Disco impressed us all. It works by standing inside the room and using your cell phone to text or call someone. My husband stood inside and called me and we were all amazed as the wall lit up! We stayed here and played for a long time.
My both both take piano lessons, so this next exhibit thrilled them as well. The banana piano! They practiced their songs like Marry Had a Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star- all on bananas! It had us cracking up while other visitors around us enjoyed my sons’ musical performances.
The wind exhibits were a lot of fun for the boys. They had sail boat races against each other and could control the direction of the wind. It was challenging at first, but eventually even my 4 year old got the hang of it and like watching his boat speed up and win a race.
We each took turns playing against each other at Mindball. After reading Rebecca’s post about the museum, I personally couldn’t wait to try this one! The point is to relax and the ball will move towards your opponent. The kids thought this was hilarious! It was also nice to know that if they put their minds to it, my kids are, in fact, able to relax. I wasn’t entirely sure that it was possible before this experiment.
My kids’ favorite part (that they still talk about to this day!) was the bacteria growing exhibit. It was easily the most disgusting one, which is probably why they liked it so much! My husband found it first and tricked us all into smelling the card. Beware! This card shows what bacteria smells like. As you can imagine, it is not pleasant. But for some reason, my kids loved it and found it hilarious and smelled it over and over again. Boys love gross stuff!
The rest of the museum was equally as exciting for my kids, and even though we had to help them at each exhibit, they really stayed engaged and got involved. From building race cars to holograms to 3D movies, this place has something for everyone- at any age!
Special Events: Snow Day
The highlight of the day was the special event that brought us out to the Hill Country Science Mill- SNOW DAY! They brought in 20 tons of snow for families to play in. Parents and kids alike got in on the snowy fun, making snowmen, having snowball fights, and even a snowball catapult! My kids were especially excited about the ice sculptor and watched him carve a snowman out of ice from beginning to end! Check their Facebook page or website for more upcoming events like Snow Day so you can double the fun on your adventure here!
Upcoming Exhibits: Science & Art Park
Over the next few months, the Hill Country Science Mill is rolling out several new exhibits in their Science and Art Park on their back lawn. Recently, two giant African Spurred tortoises have taken residency in a beautiful new habitat. Visitors can peer into their protected underground habitat and with the aid of an infrared camera, be able to watch them while inside their burrow.
A fossil dig is coming soon – large stones lining a dry creek bed will have hidden fossils cast into the rock, and young visitors can excavate fossils using paleontological tools. And soon, a 30-foot tall stainless steel polygonal arm and hand sculpture will beckon visitors to the Park, where they can control the movement of the fingers and learn the power of levers, pulleys and cables to mimic the human muscle tendon complex.
Hill Country Science Mill
Location: 101 S. Lady Bird Lane (Address for mapping: W Main St & S Nugent Ave)Johnson City, Texas 78636
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sunday from 12-4 p.m. (Closed Mondays & Tuesdays except selected school holidays.)
Admission: Under 3 years old – free
Ages 3-18 (or with student ID) – $8.50
Adult – $10.00
Seniors (65+) and Military – $8.00
Food: There is a restaurant onsite (Lady Bird Lane Cafe), but the indoor eating area is very small. If you go on a busy day, it will be hard to find a seat inside. Picnic tables are available outside and you can bring your own food if you want. Please note that the cafe may not share the same hours as the museum.
Parking: There is free street parking available in front of the building and overflow parking is available at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park Visitor Center.