Unschooling Life: a trip to the science center

As part of Rachel’s birthday celebration this year we took a trip to the science center, braving the crowds for free day (which, praise the Lord, fell the day after Rachel’s b-day and had a lot to do with it being MLK day.) The kids adore the science center and have ever since a few years back when we managed to scrape together enough for a membership. Since that isn’t happening again anytime soon we took advantage of the free day despite the crowds. It was interesting to see how they responded to it after multiple years of unschooling (compared to when we had the membership and had more of an eclectic learning lifestyle which included an hour of sit-down work a day.)

Instead of going for all the big flashy exhibits that all the other kids wanted to do they went for things that really interested them, most of which had no lines, and no kids or just a few. There were things that they wanted to spend much more time on and couldn’t because of the other kids but those things they were willing to wait patiently for and then used them to the fullest while they had their turn. They have also decided that they really want to save up to get a membership again (especially since a membership means being able to go to the art museum as well–though parking is NOT free even with membership. Grrrr.)

Issac focused on the things he was interested in– most of them included building but really anything that caught his eye (most of which were things that nobody else was interested in– like the exhibit showing the inside of feet and various types of arches, the joint exhibit, how blood pumps, and what’s inside a baseball bat.) Issac has also retained his love of trains. While the girls looked at the robot exhibit (their favorite) he and I went through the train exhibit. He has a knack for seeing things and noticed many details that I missed.

Esther loves anything with animals, computers, reading, or fans. She loves doing the weather report (complete with teleprompter and hurricanes), spent as much time as she could in the wind tunnel, and read every computer screen she could get close to. She was the only kid willing to pet the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (it helped that she has been reading the Gregor series). She waited an hour in line at the sports works while her siblings and I wandered around just to spend 3 minutes jumping on the circus style trampoline and she was thrilled to death that she had done it (especially when the man in charge of it gave her an extra jump so she could finally do a flip.)

Rachel loved everything, except the fish tanks. She was disappointed that we didn’t get to go on the sub (she loves history and LOVES walking through the sub and asking all sorts of questions but with the crowds it would have been too much.) She also adored doing the stop motion camera movies and lots of the exhibits in the robot room.

All three insisted I get a photo of C3PO.

In general I was amazed at how much they actually took away from the experience, reading each description instead of running from item to item like most of the kids. They were focused and interested and quickly learned how each item worked and why instead of just interacting with each exhibit and moving on.