Saturday, February 7, 2015

Field Trip!

Before we began this homeschool adventure, I went online and asked for homeschool information from  the local museums, then promptly forgot all about them.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the email invitation last week for a free day at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum for homeschoolers.  In addition to the regular tours, there would be special activities for the students.  Cool.  And the Metro just added an "Expo" line to Exposition Park, where the Natural History Museum and California Science Center are located.  Free field trip and I don't have to drive - sign me up.

On Thursday, we walked the two blocks to the Metro station and began the easy, two-train jaunt to Exposition Park.  Liam cuddled into my shoulder on the train and we played silly, hand-slap games.  I noticed a young woman looking adoringly at Liam as we played.  During the change-over at Union Station she got off too and mentioned how sweet he looked.  He has that effect on people.

After Union Station, the train went above ground.

The park across the street from the Vermont/Expo stop had a great playground and the walkway to the museum was criss-crossed with animal tracks to identify.  Liam enjoyed following them to the Museum.

We arrived just in time to see the interactive dinosaur show in the North American Mammal Exhibit Hall.  Liam was a little nervous about the echoy, dark hall filled with chattering children, so we stood at the edge of the circle of kids.  He held his ears for a while, then relaxed when the show started. He was very excited about the baby triceritops in the show and thought it was funny when the palentologist fed him.

After the show, we cheked out the Mammal Hall.  The cases of animals were somewhat interesting to him.  I got to explain the concept of opposable thumbs, when we got to the opposums.  But fossils were of no use to him.  Dead, empty things weren't very compelling.  All of the lovely staffers who offered to show and explain the various parts of the Triceritops on the table in the main hall were mostly ignored.

We stopped off for lunch at the grill.

If you do the Museum and the Science Center - word of advice - the food is better at the Science Center.  Usually, Liam will dive into an order of fries.  Here - not so much (I tried them and have to agree with him on this one).
I let him have a cookie to give a little energy for the next leg of the journey - to the interactive lab.

Hands-on exploration is Liam's style.  Here, each frog played it's own song.  If you tap several frogs, only once - you get a chorus of different species.
Some things just inspire silliness.
This one was for Dad - in memory of the opposum family footprints he discovered in our crawl space. 

I had promised a visit to the Space Shuttle, Endeavor, which is housed at the Science Center.  Luckily the Science Center is ALWAYS free and just a short walk across the park, so it was a perfect add-on.  
I want to return and just do another day at the Science Center.  The last time we came, Liam was much smaller and less engaged.  Highly interactive and diverse troughout the whole complex, this was much more up Liam's alley.
First, we saw the Space Shuttle.  Liam is under it.  I was surprised by how tiny the insulation tiles were.   It was cool, but not as interactive as other exhibits.  We moved on to the Kelp Forest.  Liam loves aquariums.  We spent a long time here. And ran out of memory on my camera!

He asked for my phone and shot this of the fish.  I love his narration.

We managed to hit one more area on the way out, a room outfitted with different stations to experience the forces of air and water and how they can affect the land.  My favorite was a large drum which could be aimed at a wall of spangles to create a sonic ripple when struck.  Liam's favorite was a long table on the patio that was fitted with water guns, pumps and levers to control water flow.  One filled cups on a wheel until the wheel spun, another allowed water to flow down two tracks to race plastic balls and another was a game of "move the waterwheel" where two players at opposite ends of the table could fire water pistols into a metal wheel to try to push it to the opposite end of the table.  Good, wet, messy fun.  

Because I didn't have to worry about slogging home in rush hour traffic, we stayed and played at the lovely playground outside the museums before heading back to the Vermont/Expo station.  

The next day, I downloaded the photos from the trip and asked Liam to make a PowerPoint about it.  

He wanted to title his presentation "EXPO LINE."  After he designed a slide with a graphic representation of the train lines we rode, I tried to get him to think about the sequence of the trip.  What happened first?  What do you remember?  Then he typed, "The Sun Side is the shadow of the Light."  It was such an unexpectedly beautiful, poetic phrase that I simply said, "tell me more."  Fragmented images poured out, attached to the pictures.  I only stepped in to help with grammar, if I thought it to be too hard for a viewer to understand.  Otherwise, I let him write as he thinks.  

The original PowerPoint has embedded videos, which made the .mov too big for this blog, so I've attached the slides as JPEGs.  The day, from Liam's point of view:

 The aquarium portion of the trip was by far Liam's favorite.  I was happy to find out the trains run all the way to Long Beach.  Next field trip: The Aquarium of the Pacific.

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