Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Dinosaur Delirium"

One of our all-time favorite series is "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego". I always joke that watching Carmen and reading Nancy Drew provides a richer, more engaging and though-provoking "curriculum" than a school ever could! Anyway, there is a Carmen episode called "Dinosaur Delirium" in which Carmen wishes to make her own dinosaur and uses DNA from komodo dragons and skeletal analysis from the dinosaurs at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Bottom line? $44 air tickets and a kid begging to go to the Smithsonian is why we are here. Evie has seen a million dinosaur bones but to see the actual stuff from one of her favorites movies about dinosaur bones was a thrill for both of us!

I love museums too and yesterday I tried to balance getting sucked into the exhibits with stepping back and really enjoying Evie engaging with the material. We spent a long time in the evolution of life exhibits. With Scott and I as parents the big bang and evolution of life on earth have always been the stuff of family stories and discussion. We have read about eukaryotes and prokaryotes since she was a baby, we have seen museum displays telling the story before, she is always fascinated. We spent a good 20 minutes on the floor looking at a giant diorama or the pre-Ordivician sea. Evie had amazing ideas about the development of life after oxygen became a plentiful resource. She had terrific ideas about what made plants and animals scarce or abundant. We were surrounded by school groups running through the exhibit trying to find the answers to their fill-in-the-blank "exploration sheets." I was struck by how incredibly lucky we are that we are living our life on our own terms.

We also spent a long time in the gems/minerals/geology exhibits. The minerals were what blew my socks off! I am in awe that a few little differences, temperature, location, inclusions, can make the same organization of atoms, say calcite, look so many different ways. Evie was a drawing maniac in this section. I think the Hope diamond was her favorite.

We spent time in the wonderful kids discovery room and we made peace with the fact that we really only scratched the surface. We rode the carousel on the Mall and walked through the Hirshorn sculpture garden. Tomorrow we are off to the National Zoo!


Kate said...

I'm envious of your trip. It sounds wonderful! What an amazing experience.

Beth said...

Glad to hear you all are having such a great time! I'm envious too! lol