Taking the Kids to the World's Largest Children's Museum
Children's Museum Welcome Center
Dinosaurs crash the party at the Children's Museum Welcome Center
The young scientists intently examine a CAT scan, trying to determine exactly who is buried in the ancient Egyptian tomb -- the longest, deepest and most ornate in the famed Valley of the Kings.
Another group investigate a pile of "cannons" found at the wreck of Captain Kidd's ship the Cara Merchant, sunk off the coast of the
Did I mention that these scientists are mostly under the age of 10? Welcome to the new "Treasures of the Earth" exhibition here at the
The museum emphasizes using real science, history and artifacts to encourage family learning and offers innovative hands-on activities, which by all accounts, works beautifully.
"We're not in the middle of
"I'm learning as much as the kids," adds
That's exactly the idea, says
Sure the mummy the kids are examining with the CAT scan isn't real, nor are the giant warriors they are assembling or the pile of "underwater" cannons they are climbing over. But the lessons they are learning about archaeology and what we learn about studying past cultures certainly are real -- as are the archaeologists working here who are on hand to answer questions.
It's also important to note that each of these major archaeological sites -- in
What struck me -- besides seeing kids and parents having so much fun learning something new together -- is the number of real artifacts in the museum -- the cup of Pharaoh Seti I (this is his tomb), the cannon from Captain Kidd's Cara Merchant being carefully preserved in liquid and cleaned -- the only cannon brought to the surface from a
There are also the juvenile dinosaurs in the Dinosphere, Barbie's classic outfits in the "Barbie the Fashion Experience," a recreation of
Downstairs, families sit on a rotating couch looking up at "Fireworks of Glass," artist
As if the artifacts and hands-on areas (design your own Barbie outfit, dress like a dinosaur and "protect" your nest, "dig" for ancient finds, including a special "wall dig" area for children in wheelchairs) aren't enough to engage kids, there are also professional theatrical performances to interpret the material. We drop in as
"This makes what my son learns in school real," observed
Hopefully, parents will get as much out of a visit as their children
Sadly, museums have just one minute and 45 seconds to engage young kids' attention, explained Dr.
Kids stay interested longer and learn more when parents get involved. "Parents need to realize they play an integral role in making the experience all it can be,' Wolf said.
But that doesn't mean rushing from exhibit to exhibit -- even at a children's museum. "Choose two or three things that really engage your children," suggested Dr. Wolf. "And then relax. You don't need to see it all."
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