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BY SCOTT STIFFLER | From “The Jetsons” to “Star Wars” to the occasional episode of “PAW Patrol,” generations of kids have seen flying ships on the screen and dreamed of slipping the surly bonds of school in favor of otherworldly adventures. Sadly, we’re not at the point where piling into a Tesla Roadster and riding a Falcon Heavy rocket into space is a viable option — so good old terra firma will have to do when it comes to coming up with fun activities during the New York City public school system’s Feb. 19–23 Midwinter Recess — and beyond.
Fortunately, this town has plenty of options, starting with a space-themed destination that hardly seems like a consolation prize. You can claim it at W. 46th St. and 12th Ave. There, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is set to blast off on its annual Kids Week (Feb. 18–24). This year’s theme—“Science is Everywhere”— mines the world of art, sports, games, and nature to reveal the role played by acoustics, aerodynamics, physics, and chemistry. Programming includes a slew of interactive opportunities where kids can hone their fastball skills, create comic books, learn about outer space from NASA astronauts and engineers, meet and greet the animal friends of zoologist Jarod Miller (including a penguin and a kangaroo), and snap a selfie with Mr. Met — plus, there will be performances from Broadway shows including “SpongeBob The Musical” and “School of Rock,” along with tall tales from the Story Pirates. Intrepid staff will offer live demonstrations, planetarium presentations, and themed tours. All Kids Week activities are free with Museum admission. For the full schedule, visit intrepidmuseum.org/kidsweek.
At its iconic Tribeca store (395 Broadway at Walker St.) and its new Chelsea Market location (75 Ninth Ave. at W. 15th St.), Asian cultural product purveyor Pearl River Mart has gone to the dogs — and that’s a good thing, given their plans to ring in the Lunar New Year with free in-store events and activities (this time around, it’s the Year of the Dog!). On Lunar New Year’s Day (Fri., Feb. 16), 3:30–6:30pm at Chelsea Market, you’ll see a Chinese yo-yo performance and a lion dance. On Sun., Feb. 18, 1–4:30pm at the Tribeca store, artist Xin Song incorporates the ancient art of Chinese paper cutting into a multimedia performance, followed by a Lion Dance ceremony. Back at Chelsea Market on Sat., Feb. 24, 1–4pm, there will be a tea tasting — and internationally acclaimed storyteller Grace “GeGe” Chang dazzles with an Imperial Magic and Puppet Show. For more info, visit pearlriver.com or call 212-431-4770.
Sundays at 11am, the ongoing Film Forum Jr. series gives kids a taste of the classics by transporting them back to a time before CGI and DVDs — or, for that matter, TV. On Feb. 18, see the original 1933 “King Kong” fight a T. Rex, terrify the audience during his disastrous Broadway debut, and climb the Empire State Building — all thanks to stop-motion animation special effects that inspired generations of future filmmakers. On Feb. 25, a double dose of Laurel and Hardy has the comedy duo paying dearly for attending a lodge convention under false pretenses (1933’s “Sons of the Desert”), while 1927’s “The Battle of the Century” is, Film Forum tells us, a “classic short of pugilism and cream pies — over 3,000 were used during filming!” Fans of pie fights will also get a kick out of the epic amount of slapstick-style abuse hurled during March 11’s four short films featuring the Three Stooges, including a 3D screening of 1953’s “Pardon My Backfire,” which finds the boys working as auto mechanics and mixing it up with some escaped convicts. At Film Forum (209 W. Houston St., btw. Sixth Ave. & Varick St.). All tickets are $9. More info at filmforum.org, where you can visit the Film Forum Jr. page and make suggest movies you’d like to see.
Bonus cinematic activity: From Feb. 23–March 18, the New York International Children’s Film Festival brings cinema from all over the world to our backyard, at venues around town including Cinépolis Chelsea and the SVA Theatre (both on W. 23rd St.). Animated features and shorts, virtual reality experiences, a “Girls’ POV” slate of programming, and the premiere of Luc Jacquet’s “March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step” are all on the schedule, which you can access at nyicff.org.