Sunday, June 13, 2010

Learning About Leonardo

We love hanging out at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. No matter how many times we go, we all learn something new while having a great time.

I was really excited that there was a special exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci. He had an incredibly brilliant mind and single-handedly made remarkable advances for humankind in the areas of tools, weaponry, mathematics, human anatomy, aeronautics, art, and more.



No, wait. That was just Stuart. Here's Leonardo.



Leonardo was an great artist. His most famous works are Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. He also created the sculpture, Michaelangelo.



This reminded us of a charming book that Grandmother Chance gave to Nicholas a few years ago called, Leonardo and the Flying Boy, by Laurence Anholt. Nicholas knows the story well and was excited to see this flying machine.



Da Vinci came up with many ideas that just weren't feasible to create in his time considering the limited tools and materials available. However, his ideas opened doors for inventors for decades later. Others proved to be remarkable creations for his day.

This invention was used to change the motion of a force. The small wheel can turn in one direction and it makes the larger wheel turn in a different direction.



This mirrored booth was fun to play in but Leonardo used it to be able to study an object from all sides at one time.



Nicholas learned all about ball bearing by playing with this invention.



This invention changed circular motion into linear motion. I'm pretty sure that I couldn't have come up with a creation like this. I'm doing good just to figure out what to build with a pile of colored Legos in front of me.



Granddad learned about Leonardo's war strategies through this interactive video station.



This representation looks kind of scary until you learn what it is. It's really fascinating because it shows Leonardo's early creation of an underwater breathing tube which later developed into scuba gear.



Nicholas and Daddy worked together on this flight station.





Nicholas was fascinated with the flying machines. We talked about the time before airplanes and how inventors had to experiment with all kinds of ideas before they found the right materials and designs to take flight.



I love it that Nicholas can learn about flight and inventions in general by seeing an exhibit as awesome as this one.

Time to move on to the next set of exhibits....



We learned about the West and the The Range. Nicholas got to try out an interactive horse riding game. Giddy'up!



Next he ran a western ranch. In this game, you got to buy cattle, food, seeds, and workers for your ranch then you took care of your crops and sold your harvest to hopefully make a profit. It was a good game to teach about running a ranch, managing money, and planning ahead.



I'm not sure what kind of grass this cow's been eating but he was glowing and he kept changing colors. It was kind of like a giant cow glow stick. Nicholas loved it!



Rachel got bored with the cowboy exhibits but Granddad kept her entertained with stroller wheelies!



Any time we go to this museum, we have to visit Innovation Studios which has hand-ons activities for kids (and adults!). We learned about force and motion today. We experimented with dominos. Granddad built a domino train and Nicholas had fun knocking them down.



Rachel enjoyed watching the dominos so she built her own domino train with three dominos...



...and then she smashed them down with her hand...



Nicholas built structures with the wooden popsicle sticks, straws, and tape. What simple building materials! We have these things just sitting around our house and here Nicholas spent about 45 minutes quietly building all kinds of creations with them.



Granddad worked with the pulleys...



Rachel learned about gears...



Next we went to the Children's Museum. Every kid loves it here!

Rachel said, "BUBBLES!" at the bubble wall.





And she tried to kiss the giant tortoise.



Nicholas got pretty good at using the water guns to spin the paddles.





Even Rachel had to give it a try. She was good at shooting the water gun but didn't really understand what she was supposed to be aiming at.



We spent a lot of time in the children's grocery store. There are little shopping carts and lots of bins of pretend food like fruits, vegetables, breads, and meats. There are even little check out stations with scanners and registers. Rachel isn't a friendly shopper though. She will snatch a piece of food out of another child's shopping cart if she gets the chance. And watch those toes! She will run right over them if she's on a mad dash for the bananas.



Nicholas learned just how big dinosaur bones are at this great station that compared a dinosaur femur to femurs of other animals. It really helped to put the size in perspective.





We also looked at how challenging it can be to put fossils together to make a skeleton.





Both kids had fun sitting in the mold of a dinosaur footprint!



Next we visited the Energy exhibit to learn about gas drilling in the Barnett Shale. There is a great 4-D movie that gives a great explanation of how the gas is formed. If you go to the museum, you really have to see it. The effects are great!

Nicholas got to pretend to be in the control center for a drilling rig and we learned about the drilling process.



We were all getting tired and hungry so we started heading to the door. In the lobby of the museum we found this cool representation of a ship made entirely from re-purposed plastic drinking bottles. This is just symbolic of the actual ship, the Plastiki, which was made from about 12,000 plastic 2-liter bottles and designed to sail the Pacific Ocean.



I love recycled art like this!

We got on the road leaving Fort Worth and both kids quickly fell asleep. Rachel in her car seat. Nicholas in the back seat next to Granddad. Nicholas was cold so he is bundled up under the cover that I put down in the shopping cart seat for Rachel to sit on. At least he has a hole to stick his face out of! Silly boy :)



We had dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. Nicholas got to crack his first crab leg and he did great.



We rounded out the evening with a trip to Starbucks. The kids each got a (non-coffee) Strawberry Creme drink. This is one of Nicholas' favorite drinks ever.



Rachel learned how to say "Cheers!" while we sat enjoying our Starbucks treats.



The Leonardo DaVinci exhibit is open at The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History through Sept. 6th. It's a great experience for both kids and adults.

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