Sunday, February 24, 2008

Geek Outing

Yesterday, for a scout activity, the kids had planned to go to the Science Center in Des Moines. The plan was to explore for a few hours, then go to an IMAX movie.

Well, it turns out, the only people who were able to go were my son and I, and one of our assistant scoutmasters (we have a very small troop, and initially, two more boys and their father were going. But, one of the boys was behind in homework, and so they called to say they weren't coming). We still had fun. I can't remember getting to explore the center in such detail before.

I knew it was going to be a good visit when we walked in the front door, and found this:

The teenager wanted to take it home with him...

I especially like the space room (surprise, duh), and we spent a long time there. They had huge binders with collected space news, and good info and shots from current missions. They had a nice display about an astronaut from Iowa who was a commander on a recent shuttle mission (nice ISU shirt!). We built Lego spaceships (the teenager built the Galactica, of course, in the amount of time it took B and I to even put parts of generic ships together), and the teenager helped little kids play with the marbles in the gravity well.

I even did something I never thought I would do in my entire life.

I touched a snake.

Yep, I really did. One of the staff had one out for people to see and touch. Non-poisonous, of course (they have plenty of poisonous ones there, too).

Lunch was good, but we all ate too much. My son had a cheeseburger, fries, and a piece of pizza from my personal cheese pizza, and one from B's meat-lovers pizza. We also shared an order of breadsticks. I know the teenager had skipped breakfast to be able to eat there, but I had no such excuse. 13.75 points for the pizza*, 3 points for the breadstick, 1 for the sauce. Oh, but it was good. The guys said the cheeseburgers were really good, too. My son declared the cheeseburger and fries better than Culver's, which made me regret not getting that instead of pizza.

Anyway, we never had a chance to get bored at the center. My only complaint would be that they are not maintaining the exhibits as well as they should be (which was a problem in the old science center, too). More things were broken than should have been. For some, things that a simple blob of glue would fix. For example, in the reptile room (not its real name), they have drawers with fossils, rocks, and leaves. In some drawers, the individual pieces had come unglued, and were loose and out of place in the drawer, making that drawer pretty much unusable for its intended purpose (identification). At least two drawers, out of six, in each of the three towers had problems. I wanted to tell someone to give me a screwdriver and the glue gun, and I would fix it myself.

In all, I counted five activities that were actually broken (that would take more than glue to fix), and that didn't include the problems with the Galactic Jukebox, where you could put together clips of what you wanted to see in the Star Theater. The putting together of the show worked, but when we viewed them, everyone's shows had clips that would suddenly drop out early, or the wrong audio was with the wrong video. It was weird. We made sure to tell a volunteer about this, so they could fix it. It was more disappointing that anything, because when it works, it's really cool.

One exhibit room was completely blocked off, with no signs to explain why (were they putting together an exhibition?). We weren't the only people to comment on this.

All in all, it was a good day, but I could have gone to a regular movie theater to see Spiderwick, and been happier with it. I wouldn't have had kids kicking my seat and talking through the ENTIRE MOVIE, nor would we have been sitting next to adults who treated the place like their living room (what adult needs to leave THREE TIMES during a 90 minute movie???). From what I hear, that's a Des Moines thing... And yes, I did ask the kids to please quit talking, but if the parents don't back that up, it's a losing battle). For the love of God, teach your kids how to act in a public theater before taking them to one.

We did, however, decide to go back next Saturday morning and see the Mars movie. That would be worth seeing, and I doubt any little kids will be in that one.

All in all, a good day. :)

* 17 for a whole pizza hut personal, regardless of toppings, so really, it was probably slightly less points total. I am not going to post a complete points breakdown for yesterday, but believe it or not, by good breakfast and dinner choices, I stayed within my points for the day.

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