Busy Bodies

OK, I’ll admit it: I haven’t always enjoyed doing “kids’ stuff” with my little ones. Sometimes I would just rather be doing something other than pushing a child on a swing or playing peek-a-boo behind the sofa. Wandering through waist-high museum displays is not always on my top 10 list either. The major exceptions, though, are the exhibits at the Virginia Discovery Museum, and this summer these folks have put together another terrific exhibit that will keep parents (and maybe even older siblings) as engaged as the under-10 crowd.
Busy Bodies explores the territory of the human body from the inside out… literally. In Doctor Staywell’s office, for example, kids can puzzle together the heart, lungs, stomach, and liver or figure out how the hip bone is connected to the leg bone. Would-be health care workers can pull on their white lab coats and use a stethoscope to listen to the inner workings of their pajama-clad patients on a stretcher. And while they’re doing that, parents can sneak over and inspect the dozens of real x-rays showing things like a teenager with broken ribs, a child with an enlarged heart, and a fractured vertebrae before and after it was surgically repaired with metal screws.
Nutrition is another major section of the exhibit. A display about the fat content of various foods we commonly consume, along with a true-to-life rubber model of a pound of fat, made me swear off French fries… for at least a week. At the grocery store, shoppers can pick out a day’s worth of fruits, vegetables, bread, meat, and sweets; check out at the real cash register; then arrange their selections at the dinner table where a food pyramid puzzle reveals the nutritional balance of those choices.
The “Get Physical” area was probably the most fun for both my son and me. Athletes can jump like Michael Jordan to test their muscle power or try the long jump to test force. There are also tests for strength, stability, and flexibility. An obstacle course tests for agility, but I wouldn’t recommend it for those over four feet tall. And those who really want to test how old they’ve become can try taking a whirl with a hula-hoop.
Busy Bodies is a busy exhibit with these and more informative and fun activities to keep kids occupied for quite a while. And while the kids are learning about the workings of this amazing organism we inhabit, adults can have a great time just playing.

Busy Bodies is on display in the Back Gallery space of the Virginia Discovery Museum now through September 1. Included in the price of general admission. East end of the Downtown Mall. 977-1025.

Read more on: Busy Bodies