Monday, December 20, 2010


no, this is not where dora lives.  but if she were a real person, rather than a cartoon on nick, she would love this place.  it's in old town albuquerque and it is a hands-on science "museum" for kids and their lucky adult companions.

we visited there for the first time on our recent trip to new mexico.  a state i have been many, many times in the past 10 years- usually with at least one child in tow- and yet, i have never before visited this amazing spot. 

here are some highlights:

there are very few instructions on anything.  just inviting little centers for you to play with.  some are so basic and beautifully inspiring that i was shocked that i haven't seen them replicated in every other kid's museum i've been to.  for example, a box fan- the kind you have in your attic right now- placed at one end of a long, smooth table and a stack of snap-together toys, some felt fabric strips and tape.  create a boat, turn on the fan to see if you sail works.  genius.

another easy example- large pvc piping and all the joints you could imagine with a platform drilled with holes that the piping fits into.  cyrus, at 2, found this delight and spent more time there then at the train table.

and a bubble table as big as a bathroom.  the only thing bigger than those bubbles were the bright eyes of the kids giddy at their popping creations.

there were other more in-depth spots too.  seren and stood in front of a large metal door trying to decide what to do next- when it swished open to reveal an elevator bigger than our living room- and complete with a couch and some arm chairs.  i felt that thrill of being thrilled- that moment of time when you are completely delighted by life's surprised.  "whoa!" sums it up pretty well.

the water fountain- not something you drink from- but a main piece of art in the central area- shoots streams of water so crystal clear and focused (due to some kind of filtering process) that they look like arcs of glass rods.  after a snazzy display of what the six or so jets can do- you can take over by pushing large buttons to control the flow of the water streams.  you can also take over when your kid is playing with it and you gently push them aside with your mama hips.  you could, but who would do such an evil thing....

as i wandered from station to station i wanted to spend all day here.  i wanted to be there without my kids! 

and, more than anything, i want every community- my community!- to have one of these. 

to take it a step farther...i want this to exist and i want it to be free to get into.  i want there to be staff to supervise kids if a parent needs to step into a meeting room to share with her support group, or to get a much-needed massage or to take a parenting class.  i want community to be a place where any parent and child can walk into and feel supported, feel challenged, feel alive.

now what's the first step to making this happen?

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