Fly me to the moon

Monday February 21, 2011
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A few weeks ago, we had a slow Sunday afternoon and it occurred to me that it would be a good opportunity for a little one-on-one time with one of my children.  I picked my middle child, our five year old boy.   We live about 15 minutes from Washington DC, where there is a plethora of free museums and art that we rarely take advantage of.

So, he and I hopped in the minivan and headed downtown.  Our destination was the Air and Space Museum.  He had been to the Air & Space Museum at Dulles (Udvar-Hazy), but never the downtown space.  I much prefer the DC museum because it is way more interactive — the Udvar Hazy museum, to me, is just a hangar full of planes.

We found street parking pretty easily and headed inside.   Sadly, I didn’t remember to take many pictures, but we had a great time checking things out.

I forgot how much fun an outing could be with just one child.   Sam was intrigued by everything and it was great to be able to move at his pace.  He got to pick what we looked at, how long we focused on something, and what we did next.

We first spent time in the Space Race exhibit, where there were numerous life-size rockets and missiles as well as  a SkyLab Orbital Workshop and a full-size test version of the Hubble Telescope.   I’m not sure how much knowledge we acquired, but it was impressive to look at these huge creations.

We also spent some time looking at the Lunar Exploration Vehicles exhibit.  The Apollo Lunar Module is quite impressive.

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Another exhibit at this end of the museum that was fascinating is called Moving Beyond Earth.  It had lots of interactive components, such as taking quiz testing your space knowledge against other players.   You could also create add-on components to the Space Station and see if you can do it under budget.  One of my favorite exhibits is one where you give information about things you like and are good at and it tells you what kind of career you’d be suited for related to spaceflight.

After spending time in the space section, we wandered over to the air flight section.  I thought it was really cool that they had the actual plane (a Lockheed 5B Vega) that Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic ocean.

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In the America by Air exhibit,  we got to walk through the forward fuselage of a Boeing 747 and walk through the body of another airplane.  I found this Stewardess check mirror rather amusing.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have the right stuff to be a stewardess!

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After about 2 hours, we were tired and headed home.  It was a great outing with my boy and I’m so glad we took the time to explore some of the cool stuff right in our backyard.  I hope to continue this tradition with each of the kids.

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