Exploring the Mind at the Exploratorium

As I mentioned earlier, Neil and I were excited about a new exhibit at the Exploratorium, so we headed out there on Monday, when it was open, unlike a lot of places who closed on the holiday. Apparently, a lot of other people had the same idea, especially since it was raining, which prohibited a lot of other child-friendly activities, like going to a playground.

The Exploratorium was far more crowded than usual, but it has so many activities, if you’re Neil’s age and capable of enjoying them all, it doesn’t make a difference. Understandably, Neil made a beeline to the new exhibit about the mind. Much of it was simply some of the Exploratorium’s regular exhibits, like this one with this motion-sensing robot:

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The exhibits I hadn’t seen before, however, made interesting explorations into perception, especially as it can be affected by illusion and emotion. For instance, one quiz had Neil choose between two candidates for political office, based solely on which one he thought looked more competent. As with most of those who’d taken the quiz, his opinions based on looks alone matched with 80% of those who’d actually won a race.

The museum was a little more difficult for Kelly. For the first time, she was too big for the tot section, but she’s still far too small to do most of the experiments competently, or for than matter at all. She became really obsessed with created with stacking shapes meant to create complex objects, while I passed the time guessing, by clothes and demeanor, where most of that day’s Exploratorium visitors came from. It wasn’t that exciting. The vast majority looked to be locals, even the ones who were speaking foreign languages. There were a few L.A. hipsters who must have come up for the long weekend, but they came and went.

So I turned to admiring the style of the Exploratorium, which is probably what drew the hipsters in. The neat thing about the Exploratorium is that it deliberately looks like the movie set for a movie about a mad scientist, with its huge bubbling geysers, to the Erector-set-like pendulum clock, to the huge chair, and yes, the varying art exhibits. For example, here’s the shoe-testing machine, which¬† seems to change its spot every time we come:

shoe-machine.jpgAnd best of all, you can play with the mad scientist’s lab so that’s what we did, until the Exploratorium closed and our long holiday weekend was over.

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