Posted by: georginaferry | March 15, 2010

The joy of slime

Time was when museums were places where children were admonished to be quiet and refrain from running or touching anything.

Not any more. On Saturday the Museum hosted the annual ‘Wow! How?’ event, part of the Oxfordshire Science Festival. Among the dinosaur skeletons hordes of children ran from one activity to another, plunging their hands into bowls of slime  or spraying water at a banana leaf. In a quiet corner of the gallery they sat calmly on the floor and handled live giant millipedes, hissing cockroaches and stick insects, with not a shriek or a scream to be heard.

Demonstrating the activities were squads of science students, whose infectious enthusiasm came across even if their explanations of cross-linking in polymers may have gone slightly over the heads of their audience. Balloons plunged into liquid nitrogen emerged shrivelled  to almost nothing, only to reinflate themselves held in the warm hands of a wondering child. There were loud bangs coming from somewhere, but I never traced the source.

No one was bored. Only the parents wanted to go home. Everyone wanted to come back next year. If any more proof were needed that the under-12s are naturally programmed to be experimental scientists, here it was. Congratulations to all concerned (they must have been exhausted by tea time).

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