Leave it to the brain trust at the New York Hall of Science to create an ice skating rink — without the ice — offering the experience of the magic of winter without the threat of frostbite.
Children and families can now glide across an eco-friendly polymer-based material that simulates the experience of a frozen surface inside a warm climate-controlled environment at the museum.
“We’re always looking for new and interesting ways to engage people with science obviously and given the time of year, it’s winter, we thought this would be a really cool, fun, full body experience where we have an opportunity to have some full-body stuff and learn science at the same time,” New York Hall of Science Director of Public Programs Bryan Blaney said.
The new rink, which opened Dec. 10, presents an opportunity to teach people the science behind ice skating, Blaney explained. In normal rinks, skate friction melts ice and you actually skate in a thin layer of water. One of the staff members at the Hall of Science heard about the polymer-based material and recommended it to museum officials. This surface is treated with liquid silicone so the blade slices the surface and skaters, wearing normal ice skates, glide on a thin layer of lubricant instead.
“It’s really important for us to make science accessible,” Blaney said. “We often say that science is in everything but if you don’t know how to see the science you can kind of miss out on it, so we really try to create experiences or opportunities to help people see that, no matter how much background you have or where you are.”
Entry to the rink costs $10 in addition to the cost of the museum entry fee of $16 for adults and $13 for children, but museum members receive a 20% discount. The rink is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday through March 5, but Blaney added that the New York Hall of Science is open to extending the attraction past the first week of March, and in the future if there is demand from the public.
“If we find this is something that is really successful and really popular, absolutely, certainly we’ll look to bring this back,” Blaney said.
The new rink is another family-friendly attraction at the New York Hall of Science, from new exhibits such as Powering the City and Small Discoveries to inspiring art by sculptural painter Kyung Youl Soon. The museum reopened in October after nearly a year after flood water from the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused significant damage after a million gallons of water from sewage drains in Flushing Meadows Corona Park into areas of the museum.
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.