I originally planned to take the children to the De Young Museum today; and another homeschool parent had told me about a free hands-on science day as CSU-Hayward; but in the end, I decided what I would rather do this weekend than on any other is to visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum again with my family.
Better known to us at the Snoopy Museum, it honors the work of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, which is mostly his work on the Peanuts cartoon strip. It’s a small museum, but very comfortable: you can read selected (rotating strips) from the cartoon in a gallery, look at Peanuts-themed art work, romp and play with Peanuts themes in a garden area, or make your own attempts at cartooning and art (and watch Peanuts cartoons) in a special room upstairs. I figured the fact that, today the Schulz Museum had a real astronaut appearing in honor of Snoopy’s association with NASA, would make up for skipping out on a science day at CSU-Hayward.
We arrived barely in time to catch the presentation. The visiting astronaut, Dan Tani, spoke about his 4 months in the International (that is, Russian & American) Space Station, and showed the dramatic pictures he’d taken of Earth while in space. The audience’s questions were remarkably good: for instance, they prompted Tani to recount that when his American colleague on the station returned to earth, a malfunction during the descent caused the shuttle to speed down, and she survived 9Gs of force. We also got a better idea of how big the space station is, what it looks like inside, and what it’s like to live and work inside it.
When Tani went out to personally meet and greet the museum visitors, we checked out the Snoopy in Space exhibit. Kelly and I couldn’t resist the chance to dress up in astronaut gear and pretend we were astronauts in a space shuttle ourselves:
Just before it was time for him to leave, the long line to see Tani shortened, and I grabbed my family for a chance to meet him. He was just as personable and outgoing as he’d been on stage, even after chatting with strangers for an hour. Neil told him one of his father’s friends had helped design the “spheres” on the station, and Tani tried to get Kelly to come out of her shy attack for the picture I wanted to take of his and the children (to no avail.)
Kelly was full of excitement about seeing Snoopy and meeting an astronaut, so we went outside to the garden, where Neil tried to share a cookie with Snoopy while Kelly was distracted by Woodstock.
Then we went upstairs, where the art project of the day was creating a zoetrope. Neil made one that was pretty impressive, and hopefully he’ll turn it into an animation and put it up on his own web site.
So it was a perfect activity: fun, family-friendly, and interesting and informative. We love the Snoopy Museum.