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Monday, October 7, 2013

Whitaker Center

Hurricanes, movie production, airplanes, and more all in one afternoon! Only at a science museum.

Our little family has a big thing for science museums, and we have visited a number of them over the past few years. We are fortunate enough to have a decent-sized one close to home, and we took a field trip there last week.

There are actually about four of them within 30 minutes of our house, of varying sizes, themes, and budgets. One has a planetarium, another focuses on engineering, and another is three floors. We chose to go to the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts because we have an annual pass for entry.

The first floor has some small exhibits with bubbles, sound, and the like, but its main feature is the large area for small children. They can act, build, shop, dress up, and play with water. We have spent many hours in this one area of the museum, but this time we opted to skip it.

The second floor has the Carnival of Health. It's exactly what it sounds like: carnival themed activities to teach kids about their bodies. You can feed Gorgo the correct amount of colored basketballs to represent the food groups, race on bikes to see who can burn calories faster, see what you might look like at age 70, and play whack-a-germ, just to name a few. The kids love this section of the museum, although the smaller two are a little afraid of some of the exhibits. It can get pretty noisy in there, and the germ game sneezes very loudly on the loser. It can be a little disconcerting the first time!
Seriously, how gross is that clown?





Also on this floor is a section called Move It! Kids can build and race cars, build and fly paper airplanes, use a variety of methods, including vacuuming, to move small particles throughout a large machine, build a bridge and test it, and find their home or famous landmarks and locations using Google earth. We found our old house, complete with our van in the driveway! It was a little creepy, to be honest.

The final floor has a  number of displays about our planet, including weather forces. Activities include making tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods, as well as trying to catch a cloud. Our favorite exhibit here is the hurricane chamber. 
Do you see me clutching him for dear life? Like those 65 pounds are going to save me in hurricane winds. He is, however, doing his best Harry Potter/Daniel Radcliffe.


In the rear of this floor is a behind the scenes look at movie production. We got stuck here for a really long time. Visitors can change the lighting, create some digital graffiti, experiment with music, and, our favorite, stop-motion animation. Oh, my, was this fun! I never dreamed I would have as much fun as the kids! We created a ton of movies and emailed them home to view later. 










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This was my first attempt at the animation. Don't blink, or you might miss it! Next up is Little Bear's. Please don't ask me what it's about. I'm sure it has no point. When you get to trash can, I'm sure you'll agree!

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And below is one of Curly's.
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The best part of our visit was that it was a Friday afternoon in early October - too early for school field trips. We were five out of maybe 20 people in the entire museum! We practically had our own tour guide! An amazing museum employee named Jim enhanced our visit by showing us the ropes and explaining some of the concepts to us. We owe a lot of our fun to him!

This was our first field trip of the year, and we all loved it. I can't wait to take more!

Where do you like to go for field trips or family days?

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