Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Leonardo Museum (the rest of it)

Here's what else was at the Leonardo Museum (besides the "Hylozoic Veil")---first, a room with screens and cameras set up to do stop-motion animation. You'd set up your pictures or your figures in a little room (or on the mat Seb is using above) and then push a button to take a picture, move your figures, take another picture, and so forth. You could press a different button to see your entire sequence when you were done. It was pretty fun, especially for the older boys, but it takes a loooong time to set up any sequence that tells a story or anything like that. Some people apparently have the patience for it, because there was a film reel playing in the room of sequences other people had animated with the same materials, and some of them were really good. But we got tired of it before creating anything too exciting.
Then there was a motion-capture room, where you stood in the middle of the floor and when you moved, a figure on the screen moved with you. It didn't work well, even for the big kids, and for the little kids it didn't work at all. Sam thought it might have been just an Xbox Kinect rather than the real motion capture setup they'd use for movies, etc. Maybe that's why it was so weak.
It didn't stop Daisy from enjoying jumping around in there, though. :)

There was a green screen you could stand in front of and a "weather broadcast" program playing in a loop on a screen, so you could pretend to be the weather forecaster. Fun, for a short time.

After that there was a room where you could use a touch-screen computer paint program. It was hard to use and the children have access to a better one (Sam's) at home so we didn't spend much time there.
Then there was the most fun part, which they called the "Tinkering Lab," where there was just a bunch of stuff out for the children to tinker with. Seb went right to the circuits. You could hook up lights or buzzers to circuits and switches and find ways to make them work. Seb really enjoyed doing that. There was a facilitator there who just let the children explore, but came out with gentle suggestions at just the right times ("Have you tried using two batteries?" "What happens if you attach it at both ends?") so nobody ever got too frustrated. She was awesome.

Ky and Abraham both worked hard building marble tracks on the pegboard. It took quite a lot of trial-and-error to get a result they were happy with! They had a lot of fun.

Honestly, if it hadn't been for this Tinkering Lab at the end, I would have thought the museum was pretty terrible. For our price (free with a pass we had) it was a fun afternoon, but for the regular price ($9 adults, $7 children) I wouldn't go again until they've beefed up their exhibits a bit. It would have been fun to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, but that seemed even more overpriced ($24 and $10) for only a couple of rooms full of stuff.

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