With school out for winter break and holiday guests in town, the Museum of Nature & Science has plenty in store for stir-crazy kids and fun-seekers of all ages. From live sharks and twice-weekly feedings, to a new children’s area within the 12,000-square-foot Planet Shark: Predator or Prey exhibition, to daily electrifying live shows, Planetarium shows and IMAX® films, the challenge will be trying to see everything in one day. Not to worry: From December 26 – 30, the Museum will stay open until 6 p.m. giving visitors an extra hour to explore and discover.
Recently, the Museum added live sharks and other family-fun features to enhance and expand the exciting shark experience for all ages. Temporarily moved from the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park, the sharks are housed in a 515-gallon two-tank aquarium display in the MNS Science Building lobby and will be on view for the duration of the Planet Shark: Predator or Prey exhibition (September 16, 2012). Every Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m., the sharks are fed. An aquarist is on hand to answer questions before and after the feedings and talk about the sharks, making it a popular interactive activity. On Saturdays at 1 p.m., visitors can learn about the interesting anatomy of sharks while witnessing a shark dissection.
A child-friendly area has been added within the Planet Shark: Predator or Prey exhibition where kids can draw, do puzzles and enjoy various shark- and underwater- themed activities. Also new, beginning December 26, family-friendly exhibit tours will take place at 10 and 11 a.m., and 2 and 4 p.m. from December 26 – 30; 10 and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on December 31; 2 and 4 p.m. on January 1; and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on January 2.
Through December 31, daily live shows including Electric Theater and Fire & Ice are held in the auditorium at the Science Building, plus the Planetarium is open daily from December 17 – January 2. IMAX® films include SHARKS, Sea Rex: Journey to a Prehistoric World and, returning January 2, Bugs! A Rainforest Adventure.
As always, exciting exploration awaits everyday within the three buildings that make up the Museum of Nature & Science. The Science Building, home to the family favorite Children’s Museum on the lower floor, offers fun for young children up to seven years old and includes live animals such as turtles, snakes and spiders. Here, imaginative budding scientists can find engaging ways to stimulate their curiosity through a variety of hands-on, sensory experiences that foster a thirst for discovery and knowledge. Within the five-gallery “Come and Explore Your World” area kids can become a farmer, an actor or actress, an EMT or an engineer through dressing up in costume, all while learning about communities, art, culture and more, in a safe educational environment.
Other highlights inside the Science Building include Texas Dinosaurs - Fossil Dig (a.k.a. the "Dino Dig") where children can explore, dig and unearth real fossil casts found in the Big Bend; Your Incredible Body featuring 24 interactive stations for children to learn how much skin weighs, explore the microscopic world of germs and journey through the body’s maze of complex systems; and Putting DNA to Work, an engaging area featuring interactive multimedia activities where visitors can learn how inherited and infectious diseases are identified, explore the various uses of DNA analysis in criminal forensics and crop improvement and unlock the secrets hidden in genes.
Next door in the three-level Nature Building, the fun-while-learning continues. Four distinct wildlife diorama halls showcase Texas’ diverse ecosystems with coyotes, bison, alligators, amazing minerals and one of the largest scientific collections of birds in Texas. Upstairs, the beloved children’s TV show comes to life in the exciting, interactive Bob the Builder: Project – Build It! exhibit for preschoolers and young children. (Note: Bob the Builder closes January 8.) The Trinity, a collection of winning photographs from the Trinity River Corridor Project photography contest is on display from December 19 through May 2012 and is included with the cost of general admission. Outside, visitors can take a stroll around the Leonhardt Lagoon Nature Walk and encounter all sorts of swimming creatures and water-bearing wildlife.