Friday, October 13, 2006

Homeschool Open House @ Virginia Air and Space Center

HELP! It's a giant herd of homeschoolers! Actually, the Virginia Air and Space Center looked a lot like it probably looks on any busy day -- a few more moms in denim jumpers and a few more kids who already knew how lasers work, but -- pretty much the same.

We had never been to the Virginia Air and Space Center, in Hampton, because I thought it was a little over the head of my six-year-old, and definitely beyond the reach of my two-year-old. However, when some fabulous person organized a Homeschool Open House for Thursday, we decided to go, i only to let the kids run around with other homeschoolers. It was such a good time! We went with our friends Veronica, Zoe, and Phillip.

Veronica is another mom who shares my philosophy that children should be let experience museums and such on their own terms -- we are equally unconcerned that they use the exhibits in the manner they were intended, or that we see *everything*, or that they fully understand each one. This makes it fun to go to places with her, since as long as the kids are happy, interested, and not bring rude to anyone, we are both content to let them explore. I will say, though, that navigating a museum with four children under the age of six, who all have definite ideas of what they want to see, was a challenge. :D

We started out in the medical/anatomy/biology part of the center, which included a giant "Operation" game, a cryogenic surgery chamber, a mock operating room, and all kinds of cool interactive stuff. Here are Benny and Zoe practicing endoscopic surgery with a plastic cube and a block, which they have to navigate through a maze by poking the little sticks through holes in the cube. This was a big hit for all the older kids, including the three-year-old, Phillip:

Here's Benny at the helm of a commercial airliner -- a good moment for him. Benny and Sadie both play Microsoft Flight Simulator with their father quite a lot, so this was meaningful for them:

Inside another plane, we had a bit of a shock. I guess I just climbed into it, thinking it was just a plane you could look inside of, but there was a movie playing in the front of the plane, and seats to fold down on the sides. Before I knew it, we were doing a bombing run, the plane was shaking, and we were being shot at. My two-year-old was shrieking, "MOMMY! DEY SHOOTING! DEY SHOOTING!" Yes, that was a little tense. But we survived:

The Center also has a play area with soft things to climb and swing on, airplane-themed, for the kids to use to blow off steam and run around. Here are Benny and Zoe operating the hot air balloon:

Yes, my child wore his Buzz Lightyear costume. No, he wouldn't take it off, even to go to the bathroom. Yes, that is strange.

Finally, we went to see the IMAX movie, The Human Body, which was a nice coincidence given our recent study of this subject. The footage in the movie was incredible. Incredible. Seeing that fifty-foot heart valve pumping, endlessly, 80 beats per minute, hour after hour, year after year, made me feel EXHAUSTED on behalf of my heart. Also seeing inside the lungs, with the little red blood cells rushing by, was very cool on that huge screen. And we had a happy homeschool moment when Benny shouted out, "OH, so THAT'S how the red blood cells exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. WOW!" *beam*

There was a little more sperm and egg and puberty than my child was prepared for, but I'll answer his questions truthfully, if he has any. It's not like we didn't study the reproductive system, but seeing the sperm swimming up the tube, with the soundtrack playing "One of These Nights" by the Eagles... was different. But okay! :D The movie was fantastic, if only for the giant pictures of our interiors. Here we are watching the movie:

A great day at the Virginia Air and Space Center. I think the one who appreciated it the most was my two-year-old daughter, who loves airplanes to distraction, and was in a constant state of ecstasy, just to be in that huge room with so many "aircranes" at once.

For another homeschooler's interesting adventure with small children at his local air and space center, try this.

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