Have you explored the Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, SC? You may have heard the name of the Roper Mountain Science Center and wondered what in the world this is or maybe your kids attended a field trip there. But really, do you know how cool this place is?
With a dinosaur trail, a living history farm, a Marine Ecology lab, and active classrooms you can explore, you can visit multiple times and find something new and exciting at each visit! Plus, RMSC has the only planetarium in Greenville, SC and a giant 23” refractor telescope that you can look through during special events. It doesn’t get much cooler than that!
RMSC is part of the Greenville County School system and during the week they host classes for science exhibits and hands-on learning for the public school system. But for special events throughout the year, they open up the center to the public. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore this gem in Greenville! Every season offers something new and exciting at the RMSC.
This article includes:
What is at the Roper Mountain Science Center?
Friday Starry Nights
Laser Shows at Hooper Planetarium
The Nature Exchange
Afternoon Explorations: September to May
Science on Wheels & Educator Tools
What is at Roper Mountain Science Center?
The Roper Mountain Science Center is THE place to go for STEM activities in Greenville, SC that are fun and engaging. During special events throughout the year, Roper Mountain is open to the public, and it is truly worth a visit (or ten). From September through May, you can visit during Afternoon Explorations from Tuesday through Friday.
You can also explore June through July during their Summer Adventure programming, during which an exciting traveling exhibit is set up. And don’t forget their year-round Friday Starry Nights at the Hooper Planetarium. RMSC is fun for all ages!
Environmental Science and Sustainability Building
There is so much to explore at Roper Mountain Science Center! When you first arrive, you will arrive first at the Environmental Science and Sustainability Building. The building is dedicated to water ecology and sustainability practices and is filled with immersive experiences, a traveling exhibit (in summer), live animal displays, and more.
One of the most popular exhibits is the Nature Exchange. Here, your child can bring in items they found in nature, including moss, rocks, shells, lichen, or other items in exchange for points that they can use to spend on awesome items like crystals, fossils, and even owl pellets!
The Environmental Science and Sustainability Building is only open to the public during special events and Afternoon Explorations and Summer Adventure.
Harrison Hall of Natural Science
As you leave the bottom exit of the Environmental Science building, you can follow the path toward the Dinosaur Adventure Trail or the Harrison Hall of Natural Science. I am a huge ecology lover, so I immediately gravitate toward Harrison Hall. Here you will find multiple active classrooms to explore. There are live animals to meet and even touch!
You can explore taxidermied animals, bone collections, specimen collections, and living animal exhibits. Your child can touch snakes, meet a skink, and learn about ecology and biodiversity during their exploration!
The Marine Lab is super popular because you and your children will be able to touch stingrays, starfish, and other sea creatures in the tide pool while learning about them.
The Ecology Lab showcases South Carolina habitats with their native animals, which include a Mountain Trout Stream, a Beaver/Turtle Pond, a Cypress Swamp (with an alligator), and a Salt Marsh. Guests can also check out a live honeybee hive at work.
Harrison Hall of Natural Science is only open to the public during special events, including most First Fridays and Third Thursdays events during Afternoon Explorations.
Dinosaur Adventure Trail
If you decide to head to the Dinosaur Adventure Trail first, then your dino adventure will start with a meet and greet with a Triceratops! All the dinosaurs are life-size models, so be sure to notice the awe in your young kid’s eyes as they notice them towering above them.
Be mindful of the ropes, as RMSC does not allow climbing on the majority of the exhibited dinosaurs. There is, however, a special play area called Wildwood to explore and a treehouse to climb to view the dinos in all their glory!
This play area is unique because not only is it surrounded by dinosaurs, but it is also built and designed with natural objects for play.
The Dinosaur Adventure Trail is open to the public during special events, Afternoon Explorations, and Summer Adventure.
Living History Farm & Butterfly Garden
One of my earliest memories as a kid was visiting the Living History Farm when I was in Kindergarten. With authentic log cabins, a schoolhouse, a working barn, and a reconstructed former slave cabin, there is so much history that you can live the experience. Walking through the gardens, fields, pasture, farm pond, and farm animals certainly lend itself to easily imagining that time period.
The Living History Farm also has an incredible garden in the summer. You will find the Butterfly Garden on the outskirts of the Living History Farm. The garden has native plants that are frequently visited by butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.
The Living History Farm is only open to the public during special events and Summer Adventure while the Butterfly Garden is open during Afternoon Explorations, Summer Adventure, and special events.
Symmes Hall of Science
If you are a lover of all things STEM, then the Symmes Hall of Science will be the highlight of your trip to the Roper Mountain Science Center. Though Symmes Hall is only open during special events, it is worth it when you get to explore chemical reactions through experimentation, explore Tesla coils and solar panels, and interact with robotics.
Hooper Planetarium & Daniel Observatory
Last, but not least, the incredible Hooper Planetarium and Daniel Observatory. If you are wanting to spark a love for science in your child, this is a great place to start. The Hooper Planetarium is designed with a 360-degree dome with 4K projection and a truly immersive sound system.
The Hooper Planetarium offers special space-themed programming called Friday Starry Nights throughout the year. The planetarium is also equipped with a Laser Fantasy projection system, which is spectacular, to say the least! You can enjoy Laser Days of Summer, Halloween Laser Shows, and Special Laser Events throughout the year.
If you’re looking for a truly magical experience for adults and kids, then head to the Daniel Observatory after your planetarium showing to look through the historic 23’’ refractor telescope. The telescope is the 8th largest of its kind in the United States! You’ll be able to observe Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, and more as you climb the steps to look through the scope.
Friday Starry Nights at the Roper Mountain Science Center
You can find out everything you need to know about Friday Starry Nights in our KA review.
Friday Starry Nights at the Roper Mountain Science Center on Friday nights is a favorite activity for many. Shows sell out quickly and RMSC suggests purchasing tickets online beforehand.
Friday Starry Nights are offered on Friday evenings throughout the year at the Hooper Planetarium. Typically, there are three showings (4:30 pm, 6:00 pm, 7:30 pm), with each showing offering a unique feature film themed around space. The 4:30 pm show is excellent for younger children to attend and is recommended for ages 4 and older. The 6:00 pm show is also kid-friendly and features a film that is more exploratory of space in a kid-friendly way. The 7:30 feature showing is most appropriate for older children and adults.
Tickets to Friday Starry Nights are $6/adults and teens, $5/kids ages 3-12. Starry Nights is free for RMSC members. The shows are generally not recommended for kids three and under (I can vouch for this – to my dismay, my toddler was scared when we visited the planetarium during an event).
Laser Shows at the Hooper Planetarium
The planetarium also features several special events throughout the year, including Laser Days of Summer, Halloween Laser Shows, Holiday Laser Shows, Pink Floyd Laser Shows, and more! I saw the Laser Days of Summer Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon a couple of years ago, and it was EPIC.
These events are fully immersive, and allow you to sit back and listen to classic albums of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Stranger Things, and more while lasers tell a story across the 360 degree screen. Regularly check the Roper Mountain Science Center website for updates about their upcoming special events and laser shows.
Tickets for Laser Days of Summer can be purchased now, and the event will begin Thursday, July 20th, 2023. Multiple showings are offered from Thursday through Saturday from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm on most nights. Tickets for Laser Days of Summer are $8 per adult or child, and $4 for members.
The Nature Exchange
There are 12 Nature Exchanges in the country and they are like little shops for kids that focus on learning about things you find in nature and seeking out neat things that you may not otherwise see if perhaps you weren’t looking for them.
The Nature Exchange at the RMSC is the only one in the state but it’s connected to the other 11 through a database. When your kids sign up, they are entered into this national database. As they rack up points, if they visit another Nature Exchange on a trip, they can use those points to get something from that particular place they visit.
At the Nature Exchange at RMSC, there are lots of neat items already that kids can choose from if they earn enough points. Each person who signs up automatically gets 100 points plus they get points for their birthday, also. Kids can then choose something from the big Nature Exchange wall that is the same number or less than the points they have accumulated. Or, they can accumulate their points and save up for something super cool like a dinosaur fossil plate or a pretty stone or a big bug.
Kids will find everything from gemstones to intricate shells to mummified grasshoppers and tarantulas. The Nature Exchange is located on the top floor of the Environmental Science and Sustainability Building, to the left of the main entrance.
Afternoon Explorations at Roper Mountain Science Center
Afternoon Explorations is when RMSC is open to the public on Tuesday through Friday from September 13, 2023 through May 13, 2023. You can visit Roper Mountain Science Center during the year (when school is in session) from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.
On these afternoons, you can explore the Environmental Science and Sustainability Building, hunt for dinosaurs through the Dinosaur Adventure Trail, play in Wildwood, and visit the Butterfly Garden. Twice per month, during First Fridays and Third Thursdays, RMSC hosts special themed events throughout the year during Afternoon Explorations. During these times, you can also explore Harrison Hall of Science and the Living History Farm.
Tickets for Afternoon Explorations are $5 per person for ages 3 and older. Members receive free admission.
Summer Adventure and 2023’s summer Traveling Exhibit
Summer Adventure begins on June 1, 2023, and runs until July 29, 2023. You can visit during Summer Adventure Tuesday – Saturdays from 10 am – 4 pm. Explore all the exhibits RMSC has to offer, including a traveling exhibit that is only accessible during the summer.
The traveling exhibit changes every year, so it’s something special and unique to experience. Summer Adventure also offers special programs, including cockroach racing, the Eat a Bug challenge, farm animal interactions at the Living History Farm, period costume volunteers, and more to get children engaged and excited about science.
For 2023, the traveling exhibit theme is ‘How People Make Things’ and is located on the top floor of the Environmental Science and Sustainability Building. Admission is free for members, and tickets are $12 per adult and $10 per child 3 – 12 years of age. EBT cardholders can purchase tickets for $5.
Summer Camps at Roper Mountain Science Center
RMSC is focused on making STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics- fun for kids, and summer camps are no exception. But summer at Roper Mountain is more than just science: they also offer camps focusing on art, literature, moviemaking, mythology, photography and so much more. Summer camps at the Roper Mountain Science Center are available from K5 through Grade 12, and early drop-off and lunch stays are available for students attending separate morning and afternoon sessions.
Summer camp registration for 2023 begins on March 7, 2023, at 7 am for members, with public registration beginning Thursday, March 9, 2023, at 8 am. Camps fill up very quickly, and members can access concierge camp registration to ensure they are able to register for the classes they want for their children.
Bring Science Lessons to you with Science on Wheels
If you are looking for a unique and science-driven demonstration for a school program or public outreach program Science on Wheels will bring the experimentation to you. They even have a portable planetarium! The program is perfect for school science days, preschools, library events, family audiences, afterschool groups, evening school events, summer camps, and community centers.
If you think RMSC’s Science on Wheels would be perfect for your group event, you can request more information by contacting the Roper Mountain Science Center directly. Educators can also utilize the many amazing programs Roper Mountain has to offer, including field trips, virtual field trips, elearning Live From Roper, and more to boost their science curriculum for their students.
Roper Mountain Science Center Membership
Speaking of membership to the RMSC, they have some worthwhile packages, especially if your family loves science and technology.
Memberships include free admission to Afternoon Explorations, Summer Adventure, and Friday Starry Nights, special pricing for special events and Laser Days of Summer, and early registration to summer camps. A family membership only costs $95 and is easily paid for in just a couple of visits to the RMSC.
Additionally, members get free or discounted admission to over 300 science centers and museums worldwide. This is a great perk when traveling or planning day trips.
For instance, if a family of four travels to nearby Asheville and goes to the Western NC Nature Center, admission for them would be free with a membership to the RMSC.
Bottom line: A membership to the RMSC is a good investment in both learning and entertainment!
Have your kids ever been to Roper Mountain Science Center?
This would be so amazing !! We just recently moved here and have been looking for things to do with our kids. Now we know we can do this event. Super Excited !!!
We have never been to Second Saturday, but it sounds fun!
This would be neat to win — have been taking the kids to RMSC for at least 25 years !
Second Saturday events at RMSC are some of our family’s favorite outings! We love the variety of hands-on activities for all ages.
My daughter loves RMSC, learning is so much fun!
Thank you for all the wonderful ideas to do as a family!
We have been once for the Blueberry Festival and had a ton of fun. I remember the RMSC from when I was a kid and am excited to take my little girl as she grows up.
My Kids would Love this!!!
I have never been, but would love to go!
The kids would love Space Day!
This sounds like so much fun! And educational too, of course!
Never been but will have to give it a try.
No, my family & I have never been to second Saturday. It sounds awesome & I would love to bring them. Thanks for the chance to win tickets.
We haven’t been yet, but would love to check it out!
We would love to come!
My kids are 7 and 11 and they have both loved second Saturday for years. We still have yet to be able to make it there and participate in ALL they offer during the event. My kids love touching all the animals and trying to decide who will be brave enough to hold the snake, or let the tree frog climb up their arm. The folks in the old time village are always dressed in historical garb and showing how to do things like grind corn, then kids can feed that corn to chickens as well as learn to make… Read more »
Definitely a great place to take the kids and trying to win tickets may just get us there a tad sooner 🙂 may the odds be in our favor !!!
I hope I get the chance to win the tickets I would love to take the family!