Friday, April 29, 2005

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What's with Childrens-Science Museums???

During Chol Hamoed, I've been spending the week with the family (as many Jewish religious families do this week). Today we visited a children's science museum a bit out of the way. I visited this one during my childhood and had fond memories of the interactive exhibits and staff doing shows-demonstrations every 1/2 hour. Fun (and, dare I say, educational) stuff. I was looking forward to going there, with my children now old enough to really appreciate the place.

Of course, it's been a long while since I'd been there. There were bound to be big changes. However, what I found really surprised and depressed me.

They had ripped out about 70% of the place to put in an IMAX theatre (giant theatre, 6-8 story screen) and expand their planetarium to a multi-media model (no stars or night sky projection, instead a projected curved movie).

This place used to be a wonder of experiments and practical science experiences for children. Kids would get bogged down in individual science rooms for hours playing with the exhibits, and oh and ah the demonstrations (dip the ball in liquid nitrogen, now watch it crack like glass on the floor, demonstration lightning, cool!) It was great.

Now, it's all glass case stuff, interactive computer screens explaining (with powerpoint graphics) the science, and of course, the theatre and multi-media planetarium. See the plastic heart honey, press the green button for a presentation of how blood moves through the heart. Ugh!

And of course, the IMAX theatre and multi-media planetarium. The main reason we went out of our way was because our (more) nearby childrens-science museum was...70% IMAX theatre and multi-media planetarium with most exhibits being glass-cased with the only interaction being interactive computer screens. Double Ugh!

They still had 2 small rooms of the old stuff off to the side (electricity and trains), and the kids thought they were great. Buzz, pop, spark, screech, whistle, grind, great stuff.

We skipped the IMAX and the multi-media (curved-movie model) planetarium. Seems they're only interest now is in showing a bigger movie than the local theatre (and of course the $9 extra for the movie ticket). And that's just sad.

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