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By John Kelly and Craig Stoltz
From the book "Kid-O-Rama"
Copyright 1998


Science Museums | Heavenly Bodies | Weather

Give me a lever and I'll move the world." So said Archimedes. The modern equivalent might be, "Give me a touch-screen computer program and some hands-on experiments and I'll move an entire generation to be interested in science." At least that seems to be the case at attractions here.

Visiting even the best science museums with kids can be problematical. These places try not only to get kids to think but also to excite their senses with staggering dollops of interactivity. This usually is great fun, but there can be downsides. Touch-screens break. Long lines form for the cool movie. Kids ultimately may not share your wonder at the process by which blood is oxygenated. That means parents should approach these museums with patience. Try not to force younger kids to take too much in or to sit still while you read the text on every panel. They'll just want to push buttons, listen to a snippet from those recorded-information "wands," open doors and throw levers — in other words, play. There's plenty of value in this kind of exploration, even if it isn't precisely what the designers had in mind. When they're older, your kids will be well prepared for more in-depth lessons. And then, just maybe, they'll move the world.

Science Museums | Heavenly Bodies | Weather

Science Museums

The District Maryland Virginia
National Museum of Natural History Maryland Science Center Smithsonian Naturalist Center
Hands On Science Room, National Museum of American History Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry U.S. Patent and Trademark Museum
National Geographic Explorers Hall Baltimore Public Works Museum U.S. Geological Survey
National Museum of Health and Medicine    

Eyes on the Skies

Light pollution and plain-old pollution mean that the heavens around Washington aren't quite as dramatic as, say, those in Montana. Maybe that's why we have more than our fair share of planetariums, those curious theaters of the night sky where stars and planets, constellations and galaxies are projected on the ceiling. And when you want to see the real thing, visit an observatory, where you can clothe the naked eye with a telescope.

The District Maryland Virginia
Albert Einstein Planetarium Davis Planetarium Arlington Planetarium
Rock Creek Nature Center Howard B. Owens Science Center  
U.S. Naval Observatory University of Maryland Astronomy Department  

Weather or Not

Two nearby places explore the science of weather prediction. One is rather static, the other somewhat technical. Neither is a good place to bring young children or anyone who hasn't expressed an interest in meteorology.

Maryland Virginia
National Weather Service Science and History Center National Weather Service Forecast Office

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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