Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Boy and His Fulcrum: A post by guest blogger Beth Newhart

Beth Newhart is a freelance writer and has been a member of the DSC since 2008. Below is a piece she wrote about her kids and their trip to the Science Center. Thanks for sharing Beth!

A Boy and His Fulcrum
By Beth Newhart

Last winter, I took my then four-year-old son to the Science Center for the afternoon. After winding our way through exhibits that I knew were well over his comprehension level, we came to the Sparks Theater. A presentation was just beginning, and he wanted to go.

We found seats up front and watched as one brave volunteer with very long hair agreed to demonstrate static electricity. As her hair literally stood on end, Adam watched with amazement. When the next volunteer was requested, his hand shot up just like her hair. He was probably the youngest looking to help, but he was called up at one point and helped create a magnet with electricity. The loud “Bang!” of the finale didn’t even scare him. He sat giggling with his ears covered, full of anticipation.

Adam is an inquisitive and active child by nature, and the Detroit Science Center is one of his favorite hangouts. For a while, he was fascinated with lifting the 1,000-pound weight on the lower level. At first, it was merely for the thrill of using his muscles. He would show off to his older cousins visiting from Iowa, practically dangling from the rope as the weight inched off of the ground. Now, he takes the lessons learned from that exhibit and uses fulcrums while playing the backyard. Yes, he even uses the word “fulcrum.”

Lately, the water rockets is the exhibit of interest as is the U.S. Steel Factory. I thought the U.S. Steel exhibit caught his eye because it was the first thing near the new entrance; however, something about a forklift seems to call to a young boy, and when he plays with the assembly line full of gears, I picture Lucille Ball in the chocolate factory in my mind.

It has not all been afternoons with Mom and Dad. I don’t know what we would have done last summer without the morning camps for pre-schoolers. Adam made new friends and learned about the solar system and creepy critters while visiting the planetarium and watching movies in the IMAX theatre. He went to three different camps, collected three identical neon-green t-shirts, and if he had his way, he’d wear them every day of the week. I fear what his teacher thinks of my laundry habits.

And who says boys get to have all the fun? My daughter, Lydia, is 19-months-old and determined to keep up with her Big Bro, including running around the Science Center. It is impossible to pull her away the water table in Kidstown, even though she has to be on her tiptoes to dip her fingertips. The NextGen Fuels area really caught her eye; stocked full of racecars, it satisfies my pint-sized gear head’s need for speed. As I have seen the lessons Adam has learned, I can envision my baby girl being the one who eventually ends our country’s dependence on foreign oil.

I didn’t have such a wonderful resource for fun learning when I was growing up. Neither did my husband. It is truly a treat to watch our children unlock the mysteries of the world, and we can only wonder where what they have learned will take them.

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