Read this Before You Visit Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing

Impression 5 Flow a water experience downtown lansing Feature Image

A Parent’s Guide to Impression 5 Science Center

I have fond memories of I5’s big mouth sculpture from my childhood and now it’s so cool that my own kids are making the same memories.

Impression 5 Big Face Mouth downtown lansing play

I’ll be honest with you, though. I5 surprised me as an adult. I had no idea that I personally would have great experiences – just like I did in my youth. So, what is so awesome about this place?

What Families Love About Impression 5

Families love the many playing options, the learning experiences, the events, and last but not least the memberships. Also, read to the end for my personal tips on how to make a trip to I5 a great experience every time you visit.

Made by I5, With Love

Impression 5 has been thinking about you. Yep. They have an onsite exhibit team that creates and builds all I5 exhibits in-house.

In fact, they create spaces where visitors can learn and be themselves. I5 intentionally customizes each station in a way that engages every phase of life. The result: Your 0-2 year old can have as much fun as their grandparents.

Rain or Shine – Play indoors for Hours at Impression 5

Play begins as soon as you walk through the doors. The big mouth and gigantic eyeball are ready for the kids to inspect and climb into as you check in with one of their friendly employees.

Impression 5 is usually our go-to place when it’s a rainy or dreary day. Those days come around a lot here in the Capitol City. But, truth is, I5 is fun for kids no matter the weather outside.  

What to Expect When Visiting Impression 5

Impression 5 Downtown Lansing Flow a water exhibit

Lower Level Play Options:

  • Play inside of the huge mouth and eyeball.
  • Check out rotating exhibits like these past attractions: Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George, Model Trains. Visit I5’s site or stop by to see what’s happening today.
  • Flow: A water experience, located in the back.
  • Find a toy to take home from the gift shop.
impression 5 science center teeth chew on this exhibit kids downtown lansing

Upper Level Play Options:

  • Build in many forms. There are large building blocks, mini-blocks, magnetic tiles, panels, and more.
  • Go grocery shopping at the kid-sized checkout stations and store.
  • Brush large teeth/jaw with huge cleaning utensils. Brushing teeth has never been so fun.
  • Hear how sound moves through your body in a hands-on exhibit.
  • Stop by the marble “loopty-loop” track (as my kids like to call it) made of metal. Find the many ways your marble can travel.
  • Play in the big tree near the toddler station.
  • Hang in the enclosed toddler area. Find slides, a newborn section, a spaceship, games, puzzles, books and a water station.
  • Get energy out by shooting airplanes through an obstacle course, tracking your throwing arm strength, sending bottles up in the air, flipping tennis balls into drums, smashing ping pongs into cones, and so much more.
  • Step into nature in where you can spy on the birds outside, look through telescopes, and visit the fish and turtles. DIY Crafts are available here as well.
  • Create HUGE bubbles, stand inside of one, and play with different shapes in their bubble room.
  • Hear notes make different sounds in the music area and DO touch the instruments!
  • Pull your way to the top of the pulley chairs. See how our bodies can move weight with a little help in different ways.
  •  Get magnetic in the unseen world of the Nano station. Play with static electricity and more.
  • Go to the dark side and create a colorful glowing art piece at the light mosaic spanning the entire wall. See how light reacts in different ways throughout the Spectrum Exhibit.

Experiences and Learning are So Much Fun at I5 Science Center

For years I5 has been teaching kids that learning about science is a blast! They prove this in their play options for the whole family and by the cool experiences they offer. Kids love making slime, doing experiments with lab equipment, and so much more.

impression 5 lansing indoor play areas

I5 Experiences:

  • Camps: Summer and Spring Break day Labs during school breaks. Ages 3-14.
  • Positive Learning Programs: Summer Sprouts, Discovery Time, Tadpole story/play time (FREE for CADL cardholders). Ages 2-4.
  • Birthday Parties: Celebrate a birthday in one of the most fun backdrops. Private rooms to eat and open gifts are provided. Then, play in the science center and make slime with your group.
  • Groups and Field Trips: Experience the fun of science in four different group options.


Impression 5 does an amazing job of community engagement. They have a diverse calendar of events all year long. Some family favorites include being a part of the Capitol City Film Fest, meeting book characters, members nights, and adopt-a-river where families can contribute to keeping Lansing beautiful. 

A Membership to Impression 5 is a Priceless Gift to a Parent or Yourself

I received a year I5 membership  for Christmas from my mom 5 years ago. This gift fast became a yearly tradition because of how much we use it and the impact it has on her grandchildren. If I had to pick, I think the BEST part about Impression 5 is the membership program. It will have paid for itself within 2-3 visits depending on the size of your family.

Impression 5 light room kids downtown lansing

What is so great about having a membership?

There are days I have ample time, the kids are having a blast, and I can barely drag them out. But, there are days we only have about an hour to spend. This is when the membership comes in handy. No matter what’s happening on any given day, with the membership, I feel no pressure at the end to visit every station.

Have you ever had the feeling “we WILL get our money’s worth even if we all leave here in tears”? Yeah, there’s none of that here when you have the card. Jokes aside, it is a great option if you and your family love visiting the science center more than once or twice a year.

Grandparents! Membership is a great gift for your kids and grand-kids. You can name multiple adults and children. Bonus, with the enhanced and elemental options they will be able to bring guests each visit.

Air Zoo Kalamazoo Kids

Reciprocal Benefits

Get into science centers all over the country at FREE or discounted rates with the ASTC and ACM reciprocal benefits card. Some Michigan options include the Michigan Science Center in Detroit, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum during May, and the Air Zoo during September. See a full list of all the participating museums here:  ASTC and ACM.

Membership Options for 2018

Family Membership: $75 – Some benefits include two named adults and children.

Enhanced Membership: $100 – Some benefits include two named adults, children, and bring one guest.

Elemental Membership: $125 – Some benefits include three named adults, children, and bring two guests.

Impression 5 diy craft station downtown lansing

9 Tips for a Great Trip to I5 – What you might not know about Lansing’s Science Wonderland

When it comes to tips to Impression 5, I both had to learn the hard way and be schooled by some veteran mommas.  We do a lot for our kids that we don’t necessarily like all of the time. I5 doesn’t have to be one of those things. Try these tips for a good time had by all.

Impression 5 Science Center Downtown Lansing Kids Resting

Tip #1: Try to be as hands-free as possible. Strollers are allowed throughout the museum but they do get in the way and make it hard to interact with your kids. Having a baby carrier and backpack is great. I’ve noticed that when I bring in a coffee/drink I usually regret it. I’m constantly trying to figure out where to put it while helping one of my kiddos, hoping it doesn’t get knocked over or spill out of my hands.

Tip #2: I know it’s not always possible, but if you can, try to go with a friend, spouse, partner, etc. Having multiple hands helps when navigating this large space. My youngest is a runner and there are many fun things that pull his attention. Traveling with friends somehow helps the kids want to stay together. This makes for a much easier flow through the museum.

Tip #3: There is a nursing room next to the toddler area. Thank you Impression 5! Nursing was really hard for me to do in public because my little ones had torticollis (a neck condition) for a bit so this room came in handy.

Tip #4: Birthday parties run on strict schedules to accommodate all of the families who plan to celebrate. If you are invited to a birthday party, try to be as close to on-time as possible so you don’t miss out on making slime and singing happy birthday to that special kid.

Tip #5: I recently discovered that we can play overnight at Impression 5! Wow, so cool. It is pretty affordable if you have a large group.

Tip #6: Bring a change of clothes/shirt for your little ones on cold days. They will most likely get pretty wet playing in both water stations. It’s so nice to be able to let them play as long and hard as they like. After, you’ll have a fresh new shirt for them as you leave.

Tip #7: Incentive. It doesn’t matter if we have the entire day or just an hour to spend, it is ALWAYS so hard to get the kids to leave. I now save the water exhibit or rotating exhibits till last. This is such a great incentive to make our way downstairs and out the door in a timely manner. The coin race is located by the exit. I will usually have a penny ready each time we visit. When it’s time to leave they have one last fun thing to do as they exit. Fun plans seem to make good listeners, and they are learning through it all. Who doesn’t love that?

Tip #8: Give and receive grace. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that I’ve had days where my son is crying, screaming, or throwing a fit leaving an adventure. These moments are not fun. Most times they aren’t fun because other people are staring. If your kid cries leaving I5, don’t worry, I won’t judge you. We’ve all been there. Multiple factors play into why a kid is throwing a fit. Majority of the time there is a really great parent on the other end having a teachable moment. Just remember, most staring parents are thinking, “I’ve been there. Keep up the good work!”

Tip #9: Vending machines are located on the second floor with places to sit, eat, and get back to playing!

Impression 5 metal marble track downtown lansing kids play

Have a great tip you want to share with our Lansing Family Fun Community? Comment below, we love to chat.

What’s your families favorite station? If you visit and I’m there, you’ll most likely see our family at the “loopty-loop” marble track.

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