- Storefront Science
728 W. 181st St., nr. Ft. Washington Ave.
Consider this Washington Heights space your child’s private lab. Run by Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone, a Ed.D. who used to head the nonprofit Salvadori Center (a math-science-and-engineering program for city schools), the shop has stations set up where kids can perform experiments. On Fridays and weekends, families can drop in—cost is $10 per child, and visitors can stay as long as they want—and check out specimens under a microscope, play with marbles to learn about the laws of physics, and more. After-school programs and day camps, too, plus accommodation for home-schooled kids.
- The Marshall Chess Club
23 W. 10th St., nr. Fifth Ave.
“The Marshall” hosts lessons, lectures, pickup games, and plenty of tournaments where you can goose your ranking. Chess feels important here—not nerdy or niche-y, just cool. Beginners are welcome—and what better way to get inspired than watching international stars play?
- The Center for Architecture
536 La Guardia Place, nr. Bleecker St.
Affiliated with the American Institute of Architects, the Center for Architecture has a robust and little-known children’s calendar. Children as young as 5 can learn all about how buildings are designed and how skyscrapers work. In one workshop, they can tour several apartments in the city with the architects that built them and then develop their own concepts. (They even host summer camps.)
- Downtown Dance Factory
291 Broadway, nr. Chambers St.
This studio, founded by two mothers (one a dancer, the other an M.B.A.), just expanded its Tribeca headquarters. Classes include ballet, lyrical dance, and hip-hop, and emphasize technique but not at the expense of fun. One key mission has been to make dance more popular among boys, and it’s making headway: Two years ago, it had only one boys-only class, and now there are 13.
Baby Scientists and Beyond
Great teaching centers for …
From the 2012 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine