Saturday, August 14, 2010

Touch the Interactivity! FEEL it!

Museums these days have a ton of interactivity - knobs to turn, touchscreens to touch, doors to open, costumes to try on, fish to measure, shells to fondle - children often get bored if they're not forced to do something other than stare at exhibits.

We now have a family pass to the newly-renovated Canadian Museum of Nature, also known to Kiernan alternately as "The Dinosaur Museum" or the "Castle Museum". Kiernan got to go there three times in the span of a week, two of those times with me. The second time we went, Kiernan dragged me over to a display in the Mammal Gallery, talking about how humans are mammals too.

Four doors sat closed on an inclined display, the first of which Kiernan flipped up, revealing a small cupboard containing a mass of hair. "Feel this daddy!" he said, so I did as I read the explanation to him how humans have hair and that's like the fur and hair of animals.

The far right panel had a picture of teeth on it, and I wondered what sort of display was beneath - actual teeth? But sadly it was just a mirror, and I explained "You're supposed to smile to show your teeth in the mirror because mammals have teeth." We both grinned at our reflections.

The door second from the left was Kiernan's next choice - A heat-sensing pad that changed colours when you touched it showed that humans are warm blooded. "Touch this daddy!" Kiernan demanded, and I did, though it wasn't as impressive as Hypercolour shirts were in the 90s.

The final panel, second from the right, read "Human babies breast feed when young". I thought "Okay, what's going to be under this panel?" until Kiernan flipped it up and I said "Ah, of course."

There lay a single felt breast nestled in its cubby beneath the door. "Look daddy! Touch this daddy!" Kiernan began poking at the boob.

"Yeah, that's okay, you feel it."

"DADDY. You have to touch it!" he demanded, getting louder.

"Okay okay okay." I prodded the breast.

"Touch it here!" he pinched at the bulbous areola sewn in the middle.

"Let's go around to the other side and see how hot you are on the the heat sensing camera"


I reached out and quickly gave it quick pinch. "Yup, that's great, Kier."

"Does it feel cool?"

"For sure." I agreed, because these days tweaking muppet nipples is the epitome of cool.