November 13, 2010

Mid-America Science Museum, Hot Springs, Arkansas

The view of Lake Hamilton from our campsite near Hot Springs
So, Linda was deep in her online training for her new job and needed the whole day with us away. So, Hilina and I headed on over to the Mid-America Science Museum, just outside of Hot Springs, to check out the activities and stay busy during this time.

It is your typical children's science museum, full of interesting activities and demonstrations of physics, geology, and meteorology. We were there for almost 4 hours (in two blocks with lunch in between) and Hilina still wasn't ready to leave. We were also about the only ones there, with the exception of one "gifted" class from a local magnet school (their T-shirts said Magnet Cove School for Gifted and Talented).

There was an "underground" Arkansas activity, which was essentially an obstacle course in the dark. It required kids to climb rope ladders, go down dark slides, and crawl through tunnels. It was a challenge to get my thick load through some of the holes, but I made it too.

It had "coal mines", limestone fossil tunnels, and quartz crystals, and other stuff found in Arkansas. Hilina liked the idea of it in principal, but when the twenty 5th graders came rushing in in all their choas, Hilina suddenly got really scared. She was also scared of the slides where she couldn't see the bottom. But, once the kids left, and we sat quietly in the room with the larger rooms, she got really excited about how things were glowing in the black lights.

The museum contained some really interesting displays of physics concepts, including building bridges, a Van de Graff generator and Tesla coil, different demonstrations of weather processes, the physics of light, waves, Bernoulli's principal, refrigeration, fossil displays, pulleys, and so much more.

Hilina emerging from the worm hole

Hilina trying to stay balanced on the parabolic bowl

Hilina using a pulley system to hold her own weight up

But, by far the highlight of this day was the paleontology activities. She had the chance to dig for dinosaur bones. She keeps saying she wants to be a Paleontologist and wants to dig for fossils. She has accumulated a bunch of plastic dinosaurs to play with, dinosaur coloring books, and dinosaur books to read before bed. She is all about the dinosaurs.

Every time she tells adults she wants to be a paleontologist, they don't understand what she is saying. I think they are not listening because if I repeat it, then they are in shock that a 2-year old girl would say that. But, she knows what she is talking about.

Finding the first bones in the sediment
She is very serious about making sure it is cleaned properly with the brushes. She lamented that there was no helper to haul away the extra dirt, as she saw in her fossil dig boat.
With a little help from me, the entire dinosaur is now exposed
You know, when those child performers (music or movies) become famous, the parents always say that they say them performing at 2 years old and just knew they would be famous. I am thinking that maybe we are seeing that with Hilina in regards to science. Obviously we will not know until later. But, her passion for science, and paleontologist in particular, is amazing. We basically are allowing her to pursue her interests, without pushing her. If she decides tomorrow to no longer have any interest in this and she goes to something else that is fine. But, somehow I think this interest in how the world works will stick with her. 


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