Sunday, April 17, 2011

Studying Grossology

This was actually one of the first things we did after getting back from NY. We went to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences to check out the Animal Grossology exhibit (it's still going on for another few days).

I think that what stopped us before was the fact that although the museum admission is free, this particular exhibit is not. And it's not exactly cheap either - $8 for adults and $5 for children. Except, of course, that M is only 4 and all those under 5 get in for free. And so we went.

We got there a bit too early and had a chance to walk around checking out NC flora and fauna. M usually doesn't care, except for the giant whale skeletons hanging from the ceiling. But this time he was interested in owls, especially in the small one that he dubbed "Owly" after Mr. H. Hiram Bish's little Owly. (If you are not familiar with the story called "Pinky Pye", you might want to run to the library right away. M can listen to this story over and over. He then pretends, in his usual fashion, that H. Hiram Bish, the famed ornithologist, is staying over at our house with his Owly. He also tends to call our cat, Xander, Pinky Pye).

But back to the Animal Grossology. It was awesome! Let me list the main attractions there (the ones that M spent most of the time on):

1. The burping and farting cow - M spent a combined total of 40 minutes watching how this mechanical cow moved food between her 4 stomachs. He moved the levers and pushed buttons and checked whether the cow was chewing the cud and lifting her tail in proper order. He called it all "helping the cow digest" [помогать корове пищеварять] and took his job of "digestion helper" [пищеварятельный помошник] very seriously.

2. The Penguin's Pooping Party - the story, as told by a penguin, is short and gross - he invited some zoo animals to his party, but they came, pooped (party poopers, get it?) and disappeared, leaving steaming piles of dung behind them. The penguin then asked for help in identifying those party poopers - a rabbit, a bird, a wild cat of some sort, and an elephant - and matching them to their excrements - 4 walk throughs and countless retells on our way home.

3. Vomit Slurping Fly - a giant fly that talked his feeding habits quite openly and with a New Jersey accent - M listened to the whole lecture, although I think he was fascinated by the fly itself.

4. Transfusion Confusion game - the premise is simple - Nurse Gross has to prepare animal blood for transfusion to various animals (mostly insects, inverterbrate and spiders). But she needs to figure out which blood has to go to which animal 'cause you know different animals have different colored blood (red, white, or blue - very 4th of July, really). Players must help the nurse or else she'll be on permanent bedpan duty. M played this game at least 10 times.

5. A video of a tapeworm travelling through intestines - M watched this video a couple of times without aparent interest, but since then he washes his hands better for sure (and so do I, so do I).

6. Slippery Sea Slide - at the end of the exhibit, there was this submarine for the kids to play in. But it also had a slide shaped like a sea snake (or a sea worm). So you enter the worm's rear end, climb through a narrow twisted passage, then slide down and emerge from its mouth. A very unsettling experience for adults. But the kids - M and his little friends who came with us - loved it.

The exit was, of course, through a gift shop. I considered buying a T-shirt with "World's Most Endangered Fieces" on it, but M wanted a small toy mouse instead. The mouse was tiny (think cat's toy) and very realistic. M held it gently in the palm of his hand, talking to it about this and that. We exited the gift shop and went to see the dinosaurs and talk about their poop (bigger than elephant's for sure!)

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