This one is going to be very picture-heavy, with periodic commentary. All but the last two pictures were taken by my brother, Travis, of Travis Lovell photography.
This gadget represents number of years and helps kids get a sense of how long a million years really is. Kessa is turning the small "one year" wheel. Every ten turns it turns the "10 year" wheel once. Every time that one turns 10 times, it turns the "100 year" wheel once. And so on and so forth until the big "One Million Year" wheel in the middle. She managed to turn the "100 year" wheel once and wanted to keep going, hoping to eventually turn the million year wheel, but we talked her into leaving and continuing on through the museum.
This one let you push a button and open the shell inside the glass, so you can see what's inside. The girls loved opening it and closing it.
Kessa loved all of the hands-on displays. She would specifically look for the signs saying she could touch something. (Down by her left knee is a green and white circle. That's the hands-on sign.)
They had this fun "Design a Dino" area. She got to choose what head, tail, legs, spine, etc. to put on. She had to completely tear everything off that the person before her put on, then build from scratch.
This room taught about erosion and its part in preserving dinosaurs and then uncovering them again later. There is sand all over, and plastic dinosaurs. Then there are periodic water fountain things (you can see one in front of Abby). The water didn't flow steadily. Sometimes it was slow, sometimes fast. Here Kessa and a boy are building a dam with dinosaurs all over it. Some inside, too. Later BJ helped Kessa make a slot canyon in the dam when the water was flowing faster and watched how the water would slowly erode the sand away, making the canyon wider and wider, and uncovering all the dinosaurs buried inside the dam. Poor Abby was too short, so BJ had to hold her up so she could play. (Poor BJ, more like it! Haha.)
Weighing the girls to see how they compare to dinosaurs.
These fish are one of the few living things that are the same as the fossilized versions we have. Or something. I honestly can't remember. But there was something special about them. Of course, Abby loved watching them. "Fishies!"
But even more, she loved the shark. She seriously spent probably 10 minutes in this room, just wandering about, pointing out the shark and all the fishies all around. (Which were actually other kinds of sharks.) She kept coming back to the massive shark, though, and I had to keep her from climbing over/under the rail several times. She just wanted to get closer! As we were getting ready to move on to the next room a girl came through, she was probably 6 or 7, and she burst into tears because the shark scared her so much. Abby, however, knows no fear of sharks.
Talking about stuff on the wall while the human skeletons kill the mammoth skeleton behind us.
Digging up fossils in the giant sandbox. Kessa first carefully buried this one, then used the paintbrush to discover it. Abby was done with the sandbox pretty quickly, but Kessa we had to drag out after 15+ minutes.
Proof that Travis was there (and the beginning of our pictures)! Here Abby is comparing pictures of animals, with pictures of their skulls underneath, to the giant display of skulls in front of her. The point is to guess what skull goes to what animal. Kessa did pretty well. She guessed the giraffe and the walrus. She got the human wrong, though. Guess we'll better keep going back. (Oh, did I mention we got an annual pass? Hooray! So we can take you for half price when you get home.)
When we walked into the Mammoth room, Abby looked up at it and yelled, "Heart!" Why yes, Abby. His trunk sure does make a heart.
It was really fun. We spent about 2 hours there total and had to drag both girls away from various displays multiple times. Hooray for living only about 10 mins away and having a pass now! (There were many displays not pictured here.) We really could have spent longer. Though, to be honest, I'm glad we didn't. My feet were killing me by the end. Haha. And it was fun having Travis there. (And not just for his pictures, though we are very grateful for those, too!) The girls loved being able to show him things, and it was nice to have another adult to talk to and discuss things with.
Overall, it was a huge success. We'll do it again.