We visit my sister, who lives just outside of Washington, D.C., several times a year. Every time we are there, we go to at least one museum or tourist attraction. So why did I wait so long to bring my children to one of our nation’s best museums?
I have been waiting (rather impatiently) for one of them to be in a Space Phase. I’ve been hoping that one of them will develop an intense interest in space and want to know everything about it. I didn’t want to take them to the National Air and Space Museum until they were so unbelievably excited about space that this trip would seem better than Disney World.
You see, when I was a child, I wanted to be an astronaut. My fall back career was going to be an astronomer. I still have an essay I wrote in second grade in which I wrote, “I want to be a scientist who studies the moon.” My dream slowly faded after the Challenger crashed in 1986. It came to a screeching halt after I practically flunked physics during my junior year of high school and realized I’d rather read literature than word problems involving speeding trains and crashing objects.
Despite my change of career plans, I still love learning about space. I read so many books about the planets and comets as a child that I can still win any trivia contest that involves the solar system. If I see an article about space on my home page, I am sure to read it.
Both of my children seem to be interested in space, but neither one of them is in the Space Phase I’ve been waiting for. So, I thought maybe a trip to my favorite museum would spur their interest in my favorite scientific topic.
As soon as we arrived at the museum, I realized I forgot my camera. So, I need to apologize for the lack of visual interest in this post. However, while I was disappointed that I couldn’t take pictures for 52 Brand New, I was far more upset not to have pictures for our personal albums. I didn’t let it ruin my day. Instead, I told my kids that just means we need to return soon!
Our first stop was an exhibit called “How Things Fly”. This was a room that was totally hands-on. It made basic principles of physics so accessible that I actually understood them. My children were so caught up with pushing, pulling, and lifting objects that it was difficult for me to get them to slow down enough to explain and discuss what they were doing. But, once again, that gives me a reason to return soon! I think the second time through this exhibit, they will be able to take more time on the experiments they enjoyed so we can discuss them.
After that exhibit, we looked at all the spacecrafts on display. It is amazing that these objects actually went into space. I don’t think I’d want to get in one of those flimsy, claustrophobia-inducing pods for a trip around the block, let alone blast into space.
We then spent some time in the exhibits dedicated to exploring space. Leah was very interested in the telescopes. Luke was amazed by the exhibit that compared the sizes of the planets. I was really interested in the exhibit that explained dark matter so simply that it all made sense to me.
We spent a short time looking at some of the early airplanes. We saw one of Amelia Earhart’s airplanes. Right near it, an old Mickey Mouse cartoon was playing. the kids were belly laughed at the antics of Mickey and Minnie trying to fly a plane.
We spent over 4 hours in the museum and only saw about half of it. So, that gives us another reason to go back soon!
I think my plan may have worked. My kids seem to be more excited about space than ever. As we walked out of the museum, we were still on the steps when Leah asked me when we could return. I told her we have lots of reasons to return, so we’ll go back the next time we are in Washington, D.C. And, next time, I won’t forget my camera!
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