Friday, November 18, 2011

National Museum of Scotland

After having a snack, we set off for the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street in Old Town Edinburgh. It was a very short walk. In fact, it was little more than across the street.

We went in the Tower Entrance and asked how to get to the green gazebo in the main hall. The helpful guide sent us on our way. As we walked down, I saw my cousin! After hellos and hugs, we walked over to the science and technology gallery on level one, where lots of interactive exhibits kept the children entranced.

Jacob's favorite exhibit by far was the robotic arm (the "white robot" according to him). A touch screen let you type in your name and the arm would pick up wooden blocks and spell the name on a little rack. We must have played it fifteen times, using different names and words.

The arm spells "train"

Across from the white robot was a demonstration of efficiency of maglev trains. One model train had wheels on a track, the other was supported on a cushion of air. Lucy would push the first and it would go a small distance. She would push the other and it would go all the way across! It's a great demonstration of how friction can eat up energy.

Faster! Faster!
Another display popular with children and adults was "Rocket Power" at the back of this hall. A crank would build up power to launch a rocket. The longer you cranked the wheel, the more power it would have. The guide wire for the rocket reached up two stories, but we could hardly get it up to the first story no matter how much we cranked or thought we overcranked it. A small dial showed how much energy was stored and went from yellow to green to red. We all took turns spinning the wheel. First we got it in the yellow area and the rocket only launched a foot and a half up the wire. Then we cranked it to green, getting maybe three feet. Finally, we tried to get the dial to "red line" but that still only yielded about five feet of vertical lift. It was fun but a little disappointing.

We tried out some other exhibits and then walked through the main hall to the Animal World, where all the stuffed animals and skeletons of animals are kept. I'd never seen a moose skeleton before which was pretty neat. Lucy loved identifying the animals--lions, snakes, sharks, etc. Dinosaurs were mixed in, too, which was lovely. Andrew, my cousin's husband who's a native Scotsman, said this hall was getting a bit dusty until the recently completed overhaul of the museum. It only reopened at the end of July this year (2011, for those reading the blog in the far distant future).

We also walked through the nearby space exhibit and saw some meteors and a thousand-year old astrolabe. Then we went upstairs to see the costume and musical instrument exhibit. Jacob and Lucy had fun playing on the demonstration instruments with their second cousin. Or is he a first cousin once removed? I still haven't figured out that complicated family tree dynamic. Maybe the museum should have an exhibit on that!

Lucy, Jacob, and Thomas enjoy this percussion instrument.
We also saw the impressive Millennium Clock in the main entrance. We didn't plan properly to hear it chime the hour, but I'll bet it is impressive. At this point, Jacob and Lucy were ready for lunch and nap time. And they let us know it too, fortunately just by telling us verbally, not by having a fit or falling asleep on someone's shoulder.

Time's up! Also, this is much taller than the rocket would go.

We didn't get to see everything I would have liked to, like the famous Lewis Chessmen. But that gives us an excuse to come back some day. And since the museum is free, why not?

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