Friday, August 10, 2007

Ft. Worth Museum of Science & History

To beat the heat yesterday, Reese and I visited the Ft. Worth Museum of Science & History. We've been there a few times, and every time we leave I always tell myself we need to visit more often! Usually, we mill around the exhibits upstairs for just a bit, and then head downstairs to the Children's Museum which Reese thinks is great fun. Today, however, we never even made it downstairs!

In the past, we've always gone during the "school year", and there are just TONS of field trip students, mostly being lound & obnoxious. The last time we went, I even overheard a comment from a little girl that "I'm bored. There's nothing to do here." How sad that made me feel. You're in the middle of an awesome museum, but because you're being herded from place to place, you can't take the time or find something interesting.

Anyway--today, the crowd was large, but it was all families with children and only one large day care group that I saw. BIG difference! It was the most pleasant experience, and we will absolutely return in the summer again. During the school year, the morning Omni Theater & Planetarium shows are reserved for the field trippers, so we've never been able to see any of those. This time, however, they had morning shows for everything open to everyone, so I happily grabbed tickets to the 11:00 Omni show of "Dolphins" and the 12:30 Planetarium show!

Perhaps the BIGGEST draw for today was a traveling exhibit on Star Wars. Reese just loves the original Star Wars movies, and while I was paying for our admission to the museum, plus the tickets to the shows, he made me promise we'd see the Star Wars exhibit first!
The museum really put some thought into crowd control. Your Star Wars exhibit ticket allows you to go in at a given time (ours was 10:15). You're welcome to stay as long as you wish, but once you leave you cannot go back in that area. Admission was staggered in 15 minute intervals. So there really was never a big mass of people, which we have always experienced with the field trip students.
Reese was able to take his time, try the experiements, and there were enough parts lying around to actually do the experiements with! The first group of experiments dealt with magnets & repulsion & how the "fantasy" of Star Wars applies to the real world of today.

We used Lego pieces & strong magnets to make our own hovercrafts. It took Mommy a little while to figure out exactly what to do, but some nice Jedi-costumed man helped us out. When he walked over, Reese said "Mommy, is that Obi Wan?" So darn cute.

So we got our hovercraft to actually work. The next station used electromagnets to propel the hovering craft along a path. When Reese pushed the button, the electricity turned on and scooted our hovercraft through the copper tunnels.

I would have never guessed that we would spend 45 minutes in the Star Wars exhibit, and still need more time. Reese really, really thought it was so neat. Especially all the life-sized characters from the movie that were everywhere.

Reese spotted Yoda right away, and used this little cup thingy to listen to information about Yoda.

From there, we found all sorts of fun characters from the movie that Reese recognized. I was really glad they had labels for everyone & everything, because Mommy had no idea what they were all called!

When it was time to take certain pictures, like the ones with Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper, Reese got very serious & put on his "mean" face. Lately, he's been enamored with the Storm Troopers, and there were none in the first room. I thought, as we left the first area, that we were done and never saw any, but as you turn the corner, there's a TON more to see! And we did find our Storm Troopers, along with a huge display of real light sabers. Reese was bummed he couldn't hold any of them, because as he said "They're all covered in glass."
Finding Darth Vader was perhaps the other highlight of the day.

The last station before you exit the exhibit is a robot building activity. Actually, there's a whole bunch of different robot activities, but Reese was drawn to the R2D2 programming game. With a computer, you create a path for R2D2 to follow, telling him to go right or left, spin in a circle, go to the magnet patch, etc. We programmed our R2D2, uploaded the program to our robot, & when Reese pushed the green button on his head, off he went! After he completed our created course, he did a little happy song. Reese LOVED this!

After our Star Wars exhibit time, we headed to the Omni Theater for a movie about dolphins. When we first walked in, Reese thought the HUGE movie screen, which goes from the floor all the way over head & behind you in a dome shape, was really neat. I tried to explain what the movie would be about, but as the lights dimmed, Reese asked if we were going under water now :)

It was a neat movie about dolphin communication, and Mommy learned a lot. Did you know that dolphins' eyes can move independently from one another? Just like an iguana, one eye can look forward & one can look back. Never knew that! There were quite a few scenes where you're flying over the ocean, or beach, or city...those were Reese's favorite parts. He would grab my arm, go "Woooooo!" and dangle his feet. When they visited the Bahamas, he looked at me and said "I've been there!" When they talked about Hawaii, he said "We're going there, right?" Made me feel good that he recognizes names of places like that! The movie was almost an hour long, which I didn't know, but Reese watched the whole thing & loved it.

After our movie we headed down to the Food Court for lunch before our Planetarium show. Everyone on Earth accepts creit cards, except for the Food Court at the museum! I rarely have more than a few dollars of cash in my wallet, and today I only had $6 and some change. As I looked at the (not cheap) menu, my mental math skills worked hard to find something that we both could eat and drink for unde $6! Luckily, their hot dogs were cheap, and I was able to squeak by with two hot dogs and a small drink for just under $6. Next time, I'm bringing more cash so we can have a real lunch!

After we scarfed our hot dogs and filled our tummies, we went up to the Planetarium. It was 12:30, Reese had been going strong all morning, & the Planetarium was dark, cool, with comfy bench seats. Reese started to get fidgitey, so I said he could lay down on the seat with his head in my lap if he wanted. At first, he was looking up into the sky for the show, but after about 5 minutes I felt his breathing change & his body was twitching, and sure enough, he was zonked! So we finished the 30 minute show with Reese asleep on my lap, then I carried sleeping Reese, my purse, a pop, & his two souvenier toys to the car. I need a few more arms...

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