Today, we've been to la Museo de la Ciencia in Valladolid for a morning of culture and education. It's an impressive building and for the past few weeks, there's been a life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex perched menacingly on its roof - which was a bit of a shock the first time we drove by but which has seemed friendlier every time we've been past since - in fact, I think it waved at me the last time.
We have been many times to this museum. It's a good one, with lots of interesting and changing exhibitions and some excellent 'hands-on' elements for children of all ages to enjoy. Mateo and I went for the whole day on his birthday and still felt we could have stayed longer.
Today, as well as around sixteen life-sized dinosaurs, there was a lovely exhibition of books - 'pop-up' books seems an infantile way of describing some of these amazing works of art - works of science too. I was so impressed by the work of all the 'paper engineers', but I think my favourites were by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart, whose work I have seen before. We have a couple of their books already but I am thinking of getting a few more to keep for posterity. It was interesting to see some early examples of 'pop-ups' from the beginning of the century - the children were particularly amused to see a Victorian anatomy book, with a carefully placed fig-leaf to avoid any embarrassment. Even earlier books used the 'unpeel' technique for anatomy going right back to one from the 16th century, no less!
Mateo was rather critical of the life-size dinosaurs - a little uncharitably, I thought - and found a number of things he said were inaccurate. I was unable to agree or disagree because I really didn't know whether a carnotaurus had three fingers - as on the model in the museum - or four, as Mateo said it should have. I have come back and checked. This is what Wikipedia says:
"The most distinctive features of Carnotaurus are the two thick horns above the eyes, and the extremely reduced forelimbs with four basic digits.."
I wonder if we should let the Museum know? And also that they've put the nostrils of the brachiosaurus in the wrong place? Oops!
We 'played' in the water, learnt about Archimedes' Screw and how locks on canals work;
we stood against a photographic wall
and made funny shadow shapes;
It took me a couple of shots to realise that you can't take a picture of a shadow against a photographic wall with flash and expect the shadow to remain....
We learned about natural gas and how it gets into our homes; we discovered all about our different senses and how our brain works; we travelled at the speed of light and saw how the buildings around us seemed to bend and curve as we passed them.
I found myself strangely disturbed by the information about a young man from the United States whose terrible accident led to a greater understanding of the working of the brain. Wikipedia has a very graphic description of the events that happened to Phineas Gage but I will just tell you that he was working on the railways in the mid-1800s and suffered an accident where a big iron rod was driven through his face and up through his head. The damage didn't kill him but more or less destroyed the frontal lobe part of his brain. What was interesting to science was the huge change in his personality that occurred after the accident and studies let to a better understanding of how different parts of the brain control or are responsible for different aspects of behaviour and personality. I couldn't help wondering whether a person might change anyway if they have a bloomin' great metal bar rammed through their head?
As we left the Museum, we realised how very hungry we'd become. It was raining; there was no lunch prepared for us at home; we saw McDonald's opposite us.
Romy reminded us that she had never, ever been to McDonald's;
Ruy said he'd only been twice.
My poor deprived children.
So, because the children wanted to go and on the understanding it was a special treat (ha! the irony!) - off we trotted to McDonald's and had happy meals.
I wonder what they will remember most........