Thursday, May 30, 2013


We recently got coupons in the mail for a resident's discount to a local tourist attraction, the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory Interactive Science Center.  It boasts over 175 interactive activities.  Naturally, we had to check it out.  It was a lot like a science museum, but much more kitschy.

We were welcomed by a robot.

One thing that I've learned as a parent to my particular children is to take things at their pace.  Other children at the exploratory seemed perfectly happy to flit from activity to activity or to follow their parents' lead through the activities. This is not how my family works at these things. 

Right now, I have a 3 year old who wants to do the exact thing that is in one of her big sisters' hands at any given moment, a 6 year old who doesn't take kindly to that kind of nonsense, and a 9 year old who's prone to sensory overload.  And yet, somehow, we all think it's a good idea to go through a bunch of activities that flash and move and beep and make other sudden noises and have optical illusions and generally involve only one person at a time.

Approximately 12 times a minute, I soothed and distracted and read directions and answered questions and picked up or set down Ayla.  The other moments I snapped a photo or tried an activity myself.  It was fun, actually, but not relaxing in any way.

plasma globe

The crackle tube is another kind of plasma lamp.

The marble clock was a device that took exactly one minute to bring a marble up to the top of the contraption.  As the new marble came up and rolled into place, the weight balance caused other marbles to be displaced.  This clock is showing 1:19. 

Ayla loved anything with a phone receiver.  This one lets you listen to the sounds from the parking lot and direct a camera to see what's going on down there.

concave and convex mirrors

Air currents cause these balls to 'levitate'.

star walk

Together, Camille and Sylvia could power all of the lights on the Rainbow Bicycle Generator.

Sylvia fairly yodeled into the receiver that displayed wave patterns from sound vibrations.

When you're riding a bicycle 12 feet up in the air, it's nice to have some counterweights!

teamwork in the Virtual Sports Center


Camille lifting Sylvia for their Top 10 photo in the virtual game player

Sand sprinkled on a metal plate creates a beautiful pattern when the plate is vibrated by running a bow over it.  It makes an awful screeching sound, though. 

We had one dramatic sensory overload moment.  Those happen.  Not a full hour later, it was declared to have been the 'best day ever!'

This giant lever assisted Camille and Sylvia in lifting a 5,000 lb vehicle well off of the ground!

I'm sometimes surprised by what catches my children's attention and what doesn't.  The Van de Graaff Generator.  Eh. . .  But the rubber band art.  Fascinated.

Overall, I'd say we stayed at least three times as long as any of the other families that I saw go through the exhibits.  While it may have taken a bit more attention and alert presence on my part, I'd say we all had a better experience for it.

I'll never know exactly what my children learned from this.  I won't quiz them on static electricity or physics concepts, but judging by the conversation on the way home, there are all kinds of new ideas floating around in their heads now.  Learning in action.


  1. How fun!

    My girls our so different when it comes to outings. Sky wants to see everything at once the first 10 minutes we arrive, then we can go back to what caught our eyes. Sis is very slow and needs lots of time to warm up only then can she enjoy herself.

    It can be very challenging, why waiting for Papa to come along makes for better outings. We learn what works best for our families.

  2. I'm proud of you for actually doing activities. I always say I need to take my oldest to the museums alone so we can do some of them, but it never happens. they just sort of play with everything and i dont read much at all. oh well. this reminds me though! i have never taken my kids to NASA! and we live in space city! i've been meaning to for a while. guess i need to plan it. we are going to check out the new egypt hall today at the natural science museum. however, the flash on my camera doesn't work so i probably wont get any good pictures...

  3. We will never go to the zoo with anyone for this exact reason.

    We actually sit and watch the animals and talk about them. We walk leisurely and pay attention to the interesting things they do. We've made "friends" with many an animal. We don't often see all of the animals at the zoo on a trip, but we are generally rewarded with special moments.

    When we've gone with other people, they are often well ahead if us sitting and waiting. :)

  4. There's definitely something to be said for waiting 'til Papa can come along and/or going places with just one child sometimes! On the other hand, nothing wrong with checking things out by 'just sort of playing' :)

    Megan, I'm often amazed by what you pull off with all of your li'l ones. Didn't you recently take the four of them camping by yourself? Have fun at the Egypt hall!

    Bethany, I think your family and mine would get along just perfectly at a zoo.


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