Saturday, December 4, 2010

Intrepid Lurker, That's Me

We have done a fair amount of traveling over the past couple of months and boy, it feels nummy to be home.  We just returned from a week's excursion to Chicago, the Windy City, for a conference that my hubby attended.  Max and I tagged along to hit all of those magnificent museums and see what we could see.  I can honestly say that my bones are weary!  In the last three months we have seen Portland and Eugene, Oregon, Austin, San Antonio, Phoenix, and Chicago.  But we saw some school-worthy exhibits and learned a thing or two along the way.  One of the more interesting diversions we embarked upon was a small-scale study to determine the pattern of car honking in downtown Chicago.  We used a stop watch at various intervals and counted honks and sirens to see if there was any sort of universal pattern to man needing to get somewhere impatiently.  Fun!  The data didn't yield anything terribly exciting, but still, it was a nice segue into 'scientific observation'.  There are a lot of people in Chicago who honk their car horns, for reasons I don't quite fathom.  After awhile it became background noise.

We bagged the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Field Museum.  Oh, the Field Museum!!  Be still my heart when it comes to taxidermic and taxonomic dioramas.  The mammal and bird exhibit was unbelievable and enchanting, once we came to terms with the knowledge that the animals just on the other side of the glass were once living, breathing animals going about their animal business.  Until those diorama-building people came around.......  We squealed with delight over the baby animals and how carefully they had been preserved.  The hummingbirds really caught my attention.  Max ran from case to case and kept yelling, "MOM!  Come and look at this!"

At the Museum of Science and Industry we toured the German U505 submarine that was captured in June, 1944.  That was the coolest thing - to poke around in that tiny space and try to imagine what the 59 German men must have felt during their tours of duty.  The history was palpable, especially as the tour guide described the events when the sub was commandeered by American troops that fateful day.  I kept thinking about the captain and the crewman (who subsequently was shot by the Americans in a gun fight) who had to climb the ladder up to the top hatch once the sub surfaced and face the Americans, what that must have been like.  Max was more interested in scoping out the bunks and trying to figure out how the men slept in those tiny places.  We both loved the experience.

After each romp through the museums, we always hit the museum stores to see what we could find.  That's when I turned into an intrepid lurker and slipped into the aisles to take notes in a notebook I keep stashed in my purse.  I found so many resources and filled a couple of pages worth to do some research on.  Museum store buyers do a good job of selecting out natural history/science/history resources that can be useful in a homeschool environment.  I also checked prices, knowing full well that there are ways around those higher the library!

Over the next few weeks I'll post some of my findings.  We also found a very cool store in downtown Chicago called Marbles wherein the products are selected on the basis of their ability to stimulate your brain; intriguing games and puzzles, software and books.  I saw this particular book on the shelves and burst out with a giggle - of course, it had to be written into my notebook:

I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like: A Comprehensive Compilation of History's Greatest Analogies, Metaphors, and Similes

Probably more suitable for the adult audience, but gets high marks for cleverness

Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit & Wisdom From History's Greatest Wordsmiths

Ifferisms: An Anthology of Aphorisms That Begin with the Word "IF"

I'll try to post anything that's terribly interesting or worthwhile at looking into for your kids.  Hooray for museums and for museum stores!  


  1. I like your post very much.
    Thanks a lot for sharing it with us.

  2. Thanks, Math Facts, very much! Hope you enjoy the blog and find some materials useful.


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