Every now and then my ever suffering partner Darlene gets a wistful look in her eyes and asks if our nephew Eric can stay over for some quality time with his Auntie Darlene and Uncle Bob. I can hardly ever say no to her requests partly because she loves Eric to pieces, but also because even I have to admit that hanging out with a 6 year old can be pretty cool also.
This time however we had a plan for something extra-special to do with our little buddy. The Manitoba Museum is currently displaying Dinosaurs Unearthed, a interactive and robotic showcase that displays the latest thoughts on the lives of dinosaurs millions of years ago. For a 43 year old man-child and a 6 year old this was a must do event.
Being Spring Break for the schools here in Canada, coupled with it being Good Friday we planned on going early to avoid the insane crowds that the day off would inevitability bring. The first thing we could hardly avoid as we approached the Manitoba Museum from Main Street was the life sized robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex standing guard outside the main entrance to the building. I thought this was going to spell trouble at first as Eric seemed a bit freaked out by the moving T-Rex and the way it growled and howled at us.
Luck however was with us, as we purchased our passes to the Dinosaurs Unearthed we noted that for another few dollars we could also see a show staring Big Bird and Elmo in the attached Planetarium. A perfect way to calm down a hyperactive and frightened 6 year old!
Big Bird’s One World, One Sky Adventure features Big Bird and Elmo with a new Chinese character Hu Hu Zhu. Together the characters find constellations common to both North America and China and use their imagination to take a trip to the moon. Our nephew Eric being half Chinese himself found this new character to be very interesting and could really relate to the simple but effective cross cultural aspects in the short presentation.
At the end of the show Eric was so enthralled with the stars on the ceiling that he had to go over and ask the planetarium engineer all sorts of questions about how everything worked. We even got to see “Marvin” the Planetarium’s 40 year old star generator in action. Now replaced by the Digistar 5 System.
Succeeding in calming Eric down it was now time to take him into the heart of the Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit. His fear now was a thing of the past and he ran from exhibit to exhibit like a jack rabbit on crack. Stopping only to gaze in wonder at the motion activated dinosaurs who sprang to life when anyone walked in front of them. Some actually featured control panels where the children could choose a portion of the dinosaur to activate.
There were bones galore, some full skeletons, a plethora of sharp teeth to touch, replicas of course, and experts on hand to give explanations of the exhibits. Besides the robotic life sized dinosaurs Eric loved the excavation table where children were encouraged to hunt for dinosaur bones buried under the sand. Armed with a paint brush he carefully and cautiously unearthed a number of treasures in a patient manner while other children flailed away flinging dirt in a most disrespectful manner. We both were quite proud of Eric’s achievement in the hands on portion of the presentation.
Eventually though the crowds got much too hectic and everyone’s energy started to lag and we bid a fond farewell to the Museum, Big Bird and the Dinosaurs.The day was done but the memories will last a lifetime.
AUTHORS NOTE: For more adventures with Eric be sure to check out Winnipeg’s Winter Wonderland: The Assiniboine Valley Railway.