Monday, January 9, 2012

MIMs the word

Can you tell who's who? (3rd row from the top)
There is an amazing interactive children’s science museum a metro ride away from downtown Santiago.  The Museo Interactivo Mirador (MIM) is an enormous building filled with hands-on exhibits demonstrating all kinds of science concepts.  We’ve visited it twice so far and may try to squeeze in another trip before we leave Santiago for good.  There are rooms about construction, physics, the body, weather, water, bubbles, sound, sensory explorations, space, the list goes on.  It is a great place for our kids because they can just wander from exhibit to exhibit touching and trying it all out.  The descriptions are written in Spanish so the visit is a mental challenge for me and Danny as well, although the guides working at the museum are great and some like to practice their English with us.  We all do our best to jigsaw the information together for Harper and Cal’s understanding.
This last visit we spent a while at the construction exhibit where Harper, Cal and a group of kids got to use Styrofoam bricks, hardhats, kid-sized wheelbarrows, and an electric crane to “build" a building.  The structure of a two-story playhouse was made with wire grid paneling and the bricks fit right in to fill the walls.  Cal loved maneuvering the wheelbarrow and Harper spent most of her time operating the crane. 

I think our favorite exhibit however is this enclosed system for moving tiny pieces of gravel.  It sounds basic and it is hard to explain, but the concept is this: a vibrating table, one regular conveyor belt, one bucket conveyor belt, and two different Archimedes screws (new learning for me and Danny) perpetually move gravel along an enclosed track with the manual cranks operated by our kids.  We’ve spent a lot of time cranking the gravel along and although this may sound boring, it is a really cool concept.  We’ve taken enough pictures and we think we have the gist enough to explain it all to Grandpa Bob and have him build us a miniature version when we get back! 
Take a good look Grandpa Bob!

A few other tidbits we don’t want to forget- the museum has a child-sized urinal, which Cal is thrilled to use each time.  Harper got to lie upon the bed of nails (and thankfully the guide didn’t realize that she forgot to wear underwear that day!)  The mirror exhibits are always hilarious- the short and chubby Traveling Stoneleys made Cal crack up for a while.  And the visual perception exhibit where you look through glass at another person and it looks like you have some of their facial features was wild.  Danny and I face each other through the glass and we were amazed at much the features we saw combined with our own looked like our kids’ faces.  Might sound obvious but it was a real trip.

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