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Dinosaurs ain’t what they used to be…

July 9th, 2004 · No Comments

dinohead.jpgWednesday the girls saw their first dinosaurs when we visited the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. In order to get to other exhibits, we had to walk through this one first. As soon as we turned the corner into the dinosaur room, the girls cried and clinged to me. Giant robotic lizards were devouring each other, ripping into a carcass, roaring, moving jaws and shaking tails.

I realized that my daughters had never seen a dinosaur on display. Maybe they’ve seen a few in books. But they’d never been to a museum or science center like this one.

Wednesday I introduced my daughters to dinosaurs. And what they saw looked like living creatures. It was intense enough that Abigail and Michaela were afraid. I had to assure them that it wasn’t real and that they wouldn’t be eaten. The pneumoferrosaurus in the corner provided a helpful illustration with gears the girls could move:


When I was a kid, the dinosaurs I saw were skeletons: vetebrae and other bones strung together and modeled into an immobile approximation in a museum. Today when kids see dinosaurs, they can see 3-D ones that act almost real…at the mall! I imagine that AI and virtual reality will continue to add to the experience. But I wonder which would have been a better introduction for my daughters: a robotic imitation or a reconstructed skeleton? Is it better to show them what is known (the bones) and let them imagine, or to show them something that may be perhaps a bit fictionalized that they can experience as a living creature?

Dinos ain’t what they used to be, that’s for sure. Brontosaurus has taken the name Apatosaurus. There are other facts I saw that were new to my childhood knowledge base. And these new displays create dinosaurs that are more interactive and exciting than the ones I saw when I was as young as my daughters. I wonder what effect this will have on the next generation of paleontologists.


Tags: homeschool