June 24th, 2006

little review

Poem for Saturday

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We spent most of Friday in Columbus, beginning with COSI, the wonderful science museum by the river. Our original plan had been to stop in Canton at the Football Hall of Fame on Thursday and then see the Columbus Zoo Friday, but the kids had little interest in football and then we discovered that the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit would be at COSI so the plan seemed obvious. The biggest revelation was that we actually enjoyed the rest of the museum as much as the wonderful Star Wars exhibit, which had a smattering of costumes and props but unlike the Lord of the Rings exhibit also had a lot of accessible, hands-on science, from building magnetic Lego speeders to see what sort of balance was necessary for them to run suspended above the ground like Luke's speeder to programming little R2-D2 models to follow simple commands. The kids were far more interested in that than in Princess Leia's costume, though I was surprised at how small Han Solo's seemed and conversely how much taller Ewan McGregor must be than I thought. It was a lot of fun getting to see my childhood nightmare the interrogation droid in person, complete with injection needle.

But the museum also has many wonderful permanent exhibits -- a recreation of a city street from the 1860s and 1960s to show the changes in technology and commerce, an "ocean" area with water pistols, building with wet sand and pipes, singing bowls, a "shipwreck" and the like, plus a little submarine that kids could board, a life science exhibit with a soundproofed room, optical tricks, etc., a gadget area where kids could build with gears, study how electricity operates and all that, "Rat Basketball" where two rats conditioned to throw a little ball through a hoop compete for Cheerios, and the kids' favorite -- one of those rooms with a big spinning wheel that you walk through on a platform and feel like you're falling over. And there was a pendulum, an electricity demonstration where a man made Rice Krispies fly out of a girl's hand into the audience, a unicycle on a wire overhead in the lobby...I am sure I am forgetting a lot, but I highly recommend this museum for anyone with kids within driving distance of Ohio (they also have an IMAX theater and exchange with other science museums, so we would have gotten in free had it not been for the Star Wars exhibit)!

Then we walked over the bridge across the river to the replica of the Santa Maria built by the city of Columbus in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the original Santa Maria's voyage from Spain. This is a replica of the oldest ship we've been on -- the decks curve much more steeply than the ones on the Mayflower or later ships and the masts are a very different configuration. The Santa Maria has an enormous, thick mainmast, which required the ship to be sailed across the river from where it was constructed because the mast couldn't be taken down to go beneath the bridges, and a sterncastle as well as a forecastle. The tour went down into the hold, though it is filled with modern brick ballast and there's a flat floor and room to walk. Even though it's entirely a replica -- supposedly the most accurate one in existence, though the original sank on Columbus' first voyage so it isn't like anyone could compare -- it was a neat ship to visit!

We drove in the evening to Cincinnati -- well, actually Hebron, Kentucky, across the river, since we could get a huge two-room suite here for the same price as a little room in the city. We met mamadracula who had driven in from Bloomington and had dinner at an Appleby's which had a surprisingly excellent and inexpensive pecan chicken salad. The plan for Saturday morning is to go to the art museum, then the Newport Aquarium in the afternoon in time for the 3 p.m. penguin show!

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