The Science Museum Debacle

See the resemblance??
The Endurance, Schackleton's ship, caught in the ice.
I'm out of school for the summer and have a fair amount of free time on my hands. That being the case, I was excited about tagging along on a field trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota with my mom's fifth grade class. (She's the teacher, not a student.) Chaperoning some kids for a few hours was a small price to pay for the fun of a science museum, not to mention the entertainment I expected from the students.

I managed to make it over to the school at some obscenely early time in the morning with my sack lunch packed and ready to go. My mom packed some extra food in case a student forgot theirs. Amazingly, everyone remembered to bring a lunch and even remembered to arrive early, as they were told. My mom was sure to point out to them that although they constantly forget to bring their math and science, they somehow all managed to remember to arrive early with a lunch. Ahh, kids.

For entertainment on the bus ride, we watched a SpongeBob Squarepants video. The kids love SpongeBob. Hey man, I love SpongeBob. He and Patrick are the Martin and Lewis for their generation. OK, that was excessive, but they are entertaining. So entertaining, in fact, that the kids on the bus actually sang along with the theme song.

But as gripping as SpongeBob was, the real drama didn't begin until we were about five minutes from our destination. As we made our way out into the intersection to complete our left turn, an oncoming driver was also making his way through the intersection. He put his brakes on, but the road was wet and he collided with the bus. After getting over the initial shock of the thing and realizing that for the most part, we were fine, I realized the car driver could have been seriously hurt. I was relieved to see that he appeared to be fine. (Although I really can't speculate on his condition. Even though he looked fine, he could have been injured. I imagine the force of the impact probably jarred him to some extent.) From what I saw, his car wasn't too badly damaged. He was able to drive it onto a side road and pull over.

While the bus driver was taking care of some business, we were left to sit in bus on the side of the road. The kids seemed to behave fairly well. Of course there was some commotion, but overall it went pretty smoothly, all things considered. After the business was taken care of (and our bus driver was ticketed), we anxiously headed to the museum, as we were now in danger of missing our appointment at the Omnitheater. Instead of being let off at the school entrance, we chose the doors nearest the Omnitheater.

In the haste of the whole thing, my mother ended up tripping, or slipping or something, and actually fell onto the ground, breaking her arm. Needless to say, the field trip was off to a rather inauspicious start, and I was less than thrilled.

Nevertheless, the field trip moves on. I think they ended up delaying the show slightly, so we didn't miss anything at the theater. The show was really quite amazing. The film told the story of the Antarctic voyage of Ernest Shackleton and his crew. Amazing story and sweet visuals. Thumbs up. Of course, even if the film was bad, the Omnitheater is so cool it wouldn't be a total loss. I believe they said it's the largest screen of its kind in the world. The mechanisms that move the screen are so massive that when they constructed the building they actually put those in first and built the entire museum around them.

Next, we split up into groups and made our way to some exhibits. Most of them are pretty cool. Exploring them would really be an all day kind of thing, but we only had a couple hours so I didn't get to play as much as I normally would have. One of the more interesting sections was all about the human body. One exhibit in that section was an artist's castings of some human torsos. It was interesting to see the kids react to the "nakedness" of the displays. I heard some snickers here and there and a few comments, but I really can't be too harsh on them for that. First of all, they are at that age where this kind of thing might be especially humorous. Plus, I'm twenty years old and if I were there with my friends, we would probably end up spending the whole day taking pictures of us standing next to each figure, all the while giggling like schoolgirls.

Most of the day to that point was sprinkled with various questions and comments from the students about how soon lunch was and when could we eat and why did lunch have to be so late (it was at noon). So when the time finally came to eat, we were all ready to have some food. It's just a shame that our lunches were on the bus (which was apparently at an undisclosed location with Dick Cheney). You see, in all the commotion of the hurry to get to the Omni, there was a breakdown in the communication regarding our lunches. The result: no lunches for us.

We were on a tight schedule with only a half hour to eat, so the kids snacked on food from friends and from the vending machines. At one point one of the students asked me, half jokingly I think, if I would be mad if the bus driver had eaten our lunches. I had to laugh and respond affirmatively. I also had to think of Billy Madison. You know, the scene when Jack, Frank and the bus driver all ate the kids' lunches. Humorous.

After the kids sucked down their Twinkies and whatnot, we made our way to the 3-D laser light show. This was a neat little presentation that mixed a 3-D movie (glasses and all) with some laser effects that all combined to make words and objects jump out at you from the screen. The story seemed to be a fictional (but not completely unrealistic) account of a female astronaut in what appeared to be the near future. One of the highlights of the show for me was when the lasers created the word "TANG" and made it fly through the air. Tang is funny. Another point of interest was the reactions of the kids every time there was a special effect in the movie. This was ultimately a little bothersome to me. You see, they reacted to the effects the same way every time: they made all sorts of noises and then reached out and tried to touch the object that was "coming out at them." I have no real problem with the act itself, in fact I've done the same kind of thing. The part I have a problem with is that they did it throughout the entire movie. You'd think that after about the tenth time they reached out to grab the object and didn't get it, they would stop trying. But they didn't. Oh well.

From here on out it was smooth sailing. Gift shop, bus, home. All delightfully uneventful.

Final thoughts:

Museum: Excellent

Bus Ride: Not so excellent

- Jon also answers to "Little Juan."
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