Monday, June 11, 2012

Glasgow Science Center- Ultimate Family Field Trip

Summertime shouldn't mean an end to learning time.  After settling back in our cozy Helensburgh apartment, we took a family field trip to the Glasgow Science Center.  The enormous glass structure, situated directly on the River Clyde, cleverly disguised the many scientific lessons in hands-on activities, demonstrations, competitions and a planetarium.  No big surprise that this is Scotland's leading science attraction and a must see for students of all ages.

Blending into the sea of school uniforms, we felt like we were on a school field trip and quickly fell in line (or, as the British say, queue) for a special school presentation on the science of sports.  The Scottish presenter had all the students, including our family, in the palm of his hand as he demonstrated the physical changes in the body when exercising.  Wyatt thought it was hilarious when he explained how sweat cools the body by spraying sweat (collected earlier from his assistant and stored in a bottle) all over the audience.  Hilarious, until the presenter sprayed him.  Even knowing it was just water, Wyatt couldn't wipe it off fast enough. After a healthy competition between boys and girls on balance, flexibility, strength and endurance, we all learned new things about our bodies.  For example: Did you know there are no muscles in your fingers?  The only muscles in your hands are the ones of the thumb and palm under the pinkie.  Don't believe me?  Put one hand on your forearm, just below your elbow, and wiggle your fingers.  Feel the muscles move?

After the body lessons, the kids ran for the hands-on activities.  There were body science stations, magnetics and electricity stations, imaginative and inventive stations, and optical illusion stations.  Walking from room to room and floor to floor, I realized this museum was ALL hands-on.  There wasn't one static display in the entire center.

Wyatt and Emma's favorite experiments were on the optical illusion floor.  Emma experimented with mirrors, Salvador Dali concepts and Alice in Wonderland illusions.  She walked on walls, shrunk sizes after drinking Alice's pretend tonic, and tried to figure out the many puzzles all around the room.  Wyatt loved the rooms and cameras that distorted size and space.  He walked to one side of the room and hit the ceiling, but on the other side, he seemed barely two feet tall.

Barbie Science Theater presents the First Heart Transplant
Anabel couldn't tear herself away from the Barbie Science Theater.  In the medical science room, she learned about the first human heart transplant as reenacted by Barbie, Ken, Skipper and Midge.  The real dolls were moved around on a conveyor belt showing two separate operating rooms with the voice over supplied by Ken, portraying Dr. Christiaan Barnard, the South African doctor who performed the first human heart transplant in December of 1967.  She laughed all through the first performance and had to watch it again.  Then, she had to film it to share with her friends back home.  She drug each one of us to watch it with her.  I joked that their performance would have been more believable if Barbie was receiving a brain transplant.  Even though she still laughed every time Ken, working his thoughts through the moral delima of harvesting body parts for transplants, screamed, "Hold it together, Chris!", Anabel could explain the open heart transplant procedure.   Thank you, Barbie, for teaching my daughter all about the first heart transplant!  (I never thought I would write those words.)

We ended our field trip with a private planetarium show; the school groups boarded their buses, but we stayed with the museum to ourselves.  Our galaxy guide showed us the evening sky from Glasgow, which was slightly different from our Southern U.S. sky.  He led us through the our Milky Way and showed us how to spot our neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, by following the bottom right point in Cassiopeia's W to the tiny, cloudy burst of light.  He answered questions and pointed out our favorites.  The kids thought it was the best planetarium show we had ever attended.  Amazing what a little special attention can do for learning!

While I love our museums in Georgia, I think they could learn a thing or two from Scotland.  Since I'm in need of employment, maybe one could benefit from all our museum touring experience this year.  (Also, hiring me would give the museum a free bonus: Anabel will gladly volunteer to set up Georgia's first Barbie Science Theater.)

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