Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Palais de la Decouverte

On Sunday, we took a family outing to the Palais de la Decouverte -- a beautiful palace not far from Invalides (where Napolean's tomb is) which has been converted into a science discovery museum -- the hands-on type with interactive exhibits. They have experiments and lectures going on every day, a rat laboratory where they perform experiments for an audience about twice a day, a plantarium with an astronomy show, and some great interactive exhibits on physics and optical illusions. I also learned about how rabbits from different warrens (areas where rabbits breed) have different smells. I had to smell two different odors from two different warrens, then slide four rabbits along tracks to their respective warrens according to their odors. Pressing a button to validate my answer showed that I was right. My nose has always been pretty sensitive.

Unfortunately, we were not enthused by many of the other exhibits -- either because the explanations were in French, the interactive sections were broken, or they were too complicated to try to understand. (I don't have the most scientific of minds.) There was one winning exposition which is on for a limited time only -- Le Festin des Dinosaurs, an amazing display of animatronics. I should've looked up the definition of "festin," because even though Maylin adored the expo, she was a little put off by some of the more gory displays of dinosaurs "feasting" on the flesh of other dinosaurs. If I let her, Maylin would have remained in one spot for the entire museum trip -- in front of the "daddy dinosaur" with the baby dinosaurs hatching out of their eggs. She wanted to pet the "daddy, " which was probably a mommy, so badly. But a simple explanation put that idea out of her mind. That was the tamest display, even though the dinosaur parent was really trying to fend off these mean-looking, carniverous dinosaurs eyeing the eggs. The other slightly tamer display which Maylin enjoyed had two very large dinosaurs, one being a T-Rex, which was trying to gnaw on the other's tail. We stood on the side where the gnawing and the "blood" was less apparent.

The day after, she said she wanted to go back to see the dinosaurs. Why not? Next time, I'll bring a book and just let her stand and stare as long as she likes -- and as long as it's not the gory scenes.

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