Sunday, August 14, 2011
Every time we go to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, we have a good time. Typically we tend to go on special events days, and the extra activities going on do certainly add to our trip. Yesterday was Engineer's Day. Volunteers from IBM, Cisco, The Evironmental Protection Agency, and a few other organizations were there with all sorts of hands-on activities for the kids.
In the Mercury Room, the IBM volunteers had set up all sorts of learning stations. You could look inside a desktop and a PC and even take apart and put back together a mouse or keyboard. I joked with Johnny about mom's ThinkPad never being in pieces like the ones on the demo table. There were electronics kits from Snap Circuits including a Rover vehicle.
The kids could wrap up an egg and see if it could drop from 10' without breaking. There were scraps to design boats and then see if they would float and could handle weights on top of them without flipping or sinking. The kids tried to build the largest gumdrop tower out 9 candies and unlimited toothpicks. They even got to build a cardboard periscope. Tons of fun stuff, and the kids easily spent two hours going through the activities in there.
The main draw for Cisco were tablet based phone systems. For a kid that had never Skyped before, what a treat. But even though my kids had Skyped before, they were totally thrilled to be walking around with a mobile webcame device:
There was some convincing required to get them to move onto the next activity. Cisco had other interesting stations too, but the kids were stuck on the webcams.
There were several vendors from the TechShop and Fab Labs Carolinas with varying types of ShopBot and MakerBot devices. I really enjoyed seeing one of the MakerBots in action with it's glowing green laser cranking out various types of acrylic ornaments:
The kids made jewelry out of scrap computer parts (keyboard keys, memory chips, various inside metal parts, etc.).
The kids learned about air flow resistance with a neat car ramp and some construction paper.
We even made an effort yesterday to watch the in-house car crash (seatbelt) demo system.
Like I said, we always enjoy the events at NCMLS and yesterday was another fine example of a great day up there.