Thursday, July 9, 2009

They blinded me with science


Yesterday afternoon it was just my girls and me for the whole day. For most of the summer we have split days with another family, or my mom would watch the girls, or I would drop them off at their former daycare to see their old teachers and some old friends. But yesterday it was just me and them, for the day, all day. The night before I put my plan together and it was just what Dr. Thomas Dolby ordered...a trip to our local kids science center. I myself have never been, but both my kids and wife have. We had talked about it for the past month or so and yesterday was the day.

As science centers go, and I speak with limited experience only having visited a couple in my life, ours is OK, not great, but not terrible. I didn't know what to expect really but when we walked through the doors I thought it was going to be better then static balloons stuck to the wall. The youngest, "R", was instantly startled by the stuffed cougar and coyote that greeted us at the door. It did not matter that they were long since dead, she was not going near those things. Just then a plastic ball with two small rodents goes jetting by us. Obviously residents of these parts, my girls start to follow blindly before I get them back on track and to the real excitement.

After the usual fair of optical illusions, electricity experiments and puzzle games, a nice lady with a rodent on her shoulder asks if the girls would like to come listen to her little presentation on insects. My girls love insects, so they enthusiastically jump at the chance. I follow along to see the real show, not the bugs, but the amazing girls with a zillion questions. This poor lady did not know what she was in for..but I did, and I could not wait to see someone else tackle their barrage of endless queries.

So, of course the first round of questioning dealt with the rodent perched on her shoulders.

"Why is that mouse on your shoulders?"

"She is a rat, not a mouse, and she is my special assistant."

"What is the mouses name?"

"Again, she is a rat and her name is Violet."

"Why is Violet on your shoulders?"

"She is my special assistant and she likes to go for rides."

There were several other rat/mouse/Violet questions before she could even start her presentations. She starts by asking a few questions herself to test the insect knowledge of my girls. K had taken a trip to the local universities bug museum for school so she had all the answers. Her sister R on the other hand was still asking about Violet.

"Will your mouse bite?"

"No, she is very tame." she answered obviously giving up on convincing R that it was a rat and not a mouse.

About half way through the presentation the two rodents in the ball rolled by, starting a whole new series of questions that had nothing to do with insects.

"Why are those two mice in the ball?"

"They are called Dungas, not mice, and they are just exploring the center?"

"Why are they in that ball?"

"We keep them in the ball so they don't run away?"

"What is that brown stuff in the ball with them?"

"Dungas poop."

You can imagine where the question went from there. After trying to keep the girls on track for the better part of her presentation she wraps it up by asking if the girls had any questions about insects and there impact on the world? R raises her hand and says...

"Did you know there is a dead cougar and coyote in the lobby?"

"Yes I did"

"I don't like them?"

"Oh, they aren't real, you shouldn't be scared."

"OK...can I pet your mouse now?"

Long live science!!!


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