Today was our homeschool group’s schedule trip to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and before I go any further I will say – it was awesome. It was awesome and I didn’t even get to play with most of the stuff, because James and I spent most of our time trying to corral a super grumpy 3 year old. But the stuff we did get to see and play with (there are TONS of little exhibits and things to get your hands on) were really cool.
The day started out a little rough, though. It froze overnight, and then it rained, and then this morning there was a light powdering of snow. I’m sure for most of the country, this is no problem, but in Dallas, once that weird cold white stuff starts coming from the sky, all hell breaks loose. People usually go between two extremes – deciding that just being outside it just far too dangerous to risk and canceling everything (seriously, get just a hint of a slick spot on the road and the whole city shuts down, including schools, government buildings, and so on), or people decide that because they drive an F 350 they can still barrel down the road at 85 mph (encouraging more of us to decide to not risk it and stay at home). So there are wrecks everywhere, delays, people go nuts, and everyone freezes their bottoms off because only people from places where snow and ice are normal have any idea how to dress. As a native Dallasite, I have no idea how to dress. I just put on a lot of layers. I don’t even own a pair of gloves, and neither does my son, so when he wanted a snowball fight I had to scramble and find some socks and hoped he would give up before his fingers froze off.
Our original meeting time was 10am, but the roads were very backed up, so we postponed until noon. By noon, the roads were warm and a little wet at the very most, so we made good time. After the rest of the group showed up, Kostya grabbed his best friend Brianna’s hand and we took off toward the exhibits.
We didn’t really go in any particular order, we just let the kids pick a floor and we followed, so we ended up in the middle of the museum on the technology and human sciences floor. There were a million little things to do, from guiding robots to building small buildings with magnets and completing circuits (and I’m sure more that I didn’t even see). Kostya is a small guy, and a lot of the activities were a bit above him, but he did find a few things he liked, like this activity where you build trails and roll little ping pong balls along them.
My favorite exhibit was about the human body. I’ve always been so fascinated by stuff like this. I used to watch all the shows on TLC and Discovery Channel, back when they had science as part of their programming. At first I thought these were just pictures or slides, but then I got up closer and realized that no, they were actually pieces of the person! Like, this is real human tissue! It was a little strange at first, thinking about the person that these bits of tissue and muscle used to be, but it was still so, so cool. I tried to get a decent close up so you could see the fibers and texture and things. This picture below is of a female heart, and the picture above is of an elderly man (also, my new camera is just so much better than my last). For the record, these people donated their bodies to science, so there aren’t any weird gross scary stories about them. Since the museum is located in Dallas, a good deal of the exhibits were dedicated to Texas wildlife, climate, ecology, and on other floors, economy and business (there was a large exhibit on the Barnett Shale).
Of course, what museum would be complete without dinosaurs? At this point we split from the main group and headed up to the fourth floor to check out the dinosaurs of Texas exhibit. Take a look at this guy – he’s called an Alamosaurus, found in the southern areas of North America. Sorry the picture is so wonky, it was hard to get all of him in the picture at once. Dallas gets the Dallasauras, some kinda lame fish creature. This was a little activity Kostya could do. There were different sized items in each section, and each section had a different tool to pick them up as a way to show the difference in the beaks of birds and how different beaks are specialized to pick up different foods. Kostya just likes picking things up and putting them in containers, so we sat at this for about 20 minutes until some other kids came up and wanted to play.
This is the third largest gold nugget in existence. I just thought it was cool. There was also a floor devoted to space, but at that point Kostya started melting down, so James and I didn’t get much of a chance to explore it. It looked great, though, and the next time we go we are getting a sitter for Kostya so we can go and see it all ourselves.
On the bottom floor they had sports exhibits and the children’s area. I was able to jump into the sports room really quick to see some boys race a T Rex. Part of me wants to try it out (when I’m not pregnant), but I also think it might give me nightmares, because death by T Rex is actually on my list of Ridiculous but Actual Fears. The Children’s area was pretty neat. They had a few animals to look at, a mini farmer’s market where the kids could see where produce came from and pretend to shop, a skyline playground, and a water area. Kostya wasn’t interested in anything but the water area. He has always, always enjoyed pouring water (and sand during warmer weather), even from the time he was very small and just able to hold things. We stayed here for at least a half hour, and all he did was pour water. I wonder what kinds of activities he and I can do that can capitalize on this intense interest for him, and what we can build on as far as homeschooling and lessons as he gets older. Maybe he’s got a future in fluid dynamics and engineering, yeah?
After we left, we had lunch at Chick Fil A and let Kostya play in the play area a bit, and then we headed home. I had more plans for the day, but most of that was just cleaning and straightening up, but I was more tired than I thought, so when I sat down at six I just passed out for a solid two hours. Kostya is still going strong, despite the fact that his crankiness never abated and he’s a bit of a nightmare right now (he’s never been a napper. I couldn’t get him to sleep if I strapped him to a bed).