They all three tried their hand at generating electricity by running in a big hamster wheel.
Daniel made the most sparks.
Sam didn't do too badly.
Joseph gave it a pretty good try as well.
While they went off to take an Astronomy class, Gary and I learned how solar cells function (I guess it took having the info broken down to kid-level for it to make sense), and what kinds of fuel were most efficient and, (using a hand crank) we learned how much energy it takes to make several electrical appliances work at once (My electric company must be tired). We experimented with resistance and gravity and perspective and played with the biggest water table I've ever seen.
One exhibit demonstrated centrifugal force in a fascinating--somewhat addictive--way. They offered up a continuously spinning four foot wide disc and numerous objects to place on it--balls, sticks, and metal wheels. The items would spin around on the disc for a while, finally being thrown off to the side where they would continue to expend the energy they'd gathered from the disc. It was very cool.
Here, Gary (who is 6'5) gains perspective on what it must be like to be a small child. What you can't see in this photo is that his feet can't touch the floor.
When the boys returned, we checked out the natural science lab where kids could observe the natural order of nature, from birth to death, experiment with genetics, and look through microscopes at cells. One rather ghastly exhibit demonstrated the rate of decay as shown by the remains of a mouse being devoured by beetles. Sam, being his mother's child, was grossed out, but I bravely talked to him about how important this part of the process is and saved my gagging for when he turned his back.
Of course the most popular stop remained the pretend television station where everyone (even Daniel) took a turn at playing all the roles--camera man, anchor, and weatherman. When they were much younger, the boys would spend half their visit in just this part of the museum.
If we can get him to quit cracking jokes in the middle or reporting tornadoes, we suspect Joseph would be a great news anchor.
But perhaps the most important moment of the day was when Sam braved the high wire bike. He was initially terrified--which was why I pressed him to try it (and his dad--unbeknown to me--bribed him by offering him a dollar).
He was terrified and took some coaxing by the pretty girl who worked the exhibit to even peddle out there.
But once he got underway, his fears dissipated enough to give me a smile.
Next entry: Willows Blood update and a call for beta readers (not for the faint of heart)