Well, The Pacific Science Center is at it again. Making us wonder and think about our world with another great traveling exhibit. This time, the idea of race is examined. And the tag line question “are we so different?” is explored from this angle and that, to layout a (seriously) fascinating picture that will not only engage the kiddos but intrigue parents as well. So if your “must-do” meter is sending off a strong signal, then read on for our 10 tips for navigating this latest exhibit with the tot lot. Then, put on your thinking caps, and get ready to “challenge your perspective,” because RACE is on!
The Littles in our lives have lots of questions. And when they turn 4, “lots” could win understatement of the year for some. From why the sky is blue, to why they don’t fly like the birds, they can’t wait to figure it all out. Then, somewhere along the way, they start to wonder about the people they see around them. Because wow, differences abound! There are short people and tall people. Man people and woman people. Young people and old people. Talk about the people in your neighborhood! And all parents know that those questions can sometimes be hard to answer. So, if you’ve ever wanted to have an open discussion about race, or you’ve wondered about how to approach it with your wee ones, this exhibit is an amazing entry point. It raises questions and allows participants to build and reshape perceptions about identity using history, science and personal experience as a base. That’s totally awesome!
What You Should Know:
1. Although this exhibit may not seem like something the littlest museum goers would enjoy at first glance, there’s lots to do for the stroller posse and their wobbly walking counterparts. Make your first stop the Who’s Talking? station. The kiddos can push the buttons while you try to match the speaker to the voice. Go team!
2. If there’s one thing the over 5 crowd digs, it’s making their opinions known. And who could blame them since they’re always right, right? At RACE they’ll get a chance to share their opinion by casting a vote about race and future census cards. Now that’s good practice for when they turn 18.
3. Save some time for the “inner circle” with kidlets 6 and under, where you’ll find an array of books and puppets, who look like they might be headed to a Village People reunion audition. Police officers, firemen, postal workers and even an astronaut make up this colorful group of felt friends for the tot lot. It’s sit and read and puppet play at its diversely delicious best!
4. Those in school (and even those who’ve long since graduated) will wonder lots about their school mascot after viewing the One Person’s Mascot… station. Ideas about racial stereotypes and sports mascots collide in this eye-opening section of the exhibit. Plus, you can feel good about chanting “Go Hawks!” when you’re done.
5. The large map in the back is a perfect stomping point for wiggle worms who need to jump up, jump up and get down. Let them roam free while you read about the spectrum of color in relation to geography.
6. Ever think about your heritage as a family? Check out the Hapa Project with the minis me’s. This compelling photography project, centered around people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, highlights personal stories and ideas about identity. It’ll leave you wondering about your own, which is pretty cool since you can then write down your thoughts to share with others. Drop it in the box and it’s a done deal. What an awesome family project!
7. Take a load off at the Youth on Race video station. Here the little ones can listen to the big kids for a bit, as they talk about their racial identity and how it differs from that of their parents. Yep, that sounds about right!
8. Everyone in the fam can go under the microscope at the Colors that We Are section of the exhibit. Just scan your skin and watch it transform into a chip that’s collected into a mosaic with other museum visitors’ chips. Rainbow-licious!
9. If you’ve ever wondered what a person’s appearance can tell you, you might just find some answers at this station. Little fingers will love pushing buttons and watching faces light up, while big kids and parents read a bit about how blood type, fingerprints and height relate to race (hint, they really don’t). Buttons and lights, oh my!
10. Let the minis peer into colorful, busy lockers (that we’re pretty sure double as an on-the-spot I Spy game) while the big ones read up on race and education. The stats that fly by might be one of many things that makes you go “hmmm…” at this thought-provoking exhibit.
Pacific Science Center
200 Second Avenue North
Seattle, Wa 98109
Dates: September 28 – January 5
When: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Closed on Tuesdays; Weekends, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Cost: $10 – $18 (included with regular museum admission); free with membership
Do you plan to visit the RACE exhibit? Have you been already? Share your experiences with us in a comment below.
Photos courtesy of: American Anthropological Association and Science Museum of Minnesota