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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Touch dinosaurs, dig for fossils at Tampa’s Glazer Children’s Museum

One of the best ways to learn is do so without knowing.

At “Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice,” a new exhibit opening Saturday at the Glazer Children’s Museum, that’s the goal.

“It’s hidden education,” says M.J. Craig, the museum’s marketing and communications manager. “It’s a lot of fun for kids ... but as the kids climb on everything and explore it all, it’ll be later when they go home and talk about it that they realize just how much they learned.”

The exhibit, created by the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul, features three hands-on areas to introduce kids to other climates, environments and scenarios where dinosaurs thrived.

They are:

Land of Fire: A lava-covered volcano and swampy-bog, tropical ecosystem where children (mostly ages 3-10) can come “face to face” with a Triceratops and a T-Rex, which were indigenous to this ecosystem. This environment is most like what is seen in the popular film “Jurassic Park,” explains Craig.

Land of Ice: An Alaska-type area featuring an icy slide and rocky steps, where kids will meet two not-so-well-known dinosaurs: a Troodon and the Edmontosaurus.

Both of these exhibits, which are polar opposites, include full-scale models of all dinosaurs that children can climb on.

“Basically, it will be as if they can ride the dinosaurs,” Craig says. “But what they’ll feel like, throughout the exhibit, is paleontologists, as if they were discovering dinosaurs in the field, and at the same time, they’ll be transported back to when dinosaurs were walking around.”

Field Research Station: This exhibit includes a full-size dig pit where children can uncover fossils and create rubbings and tracings.

“This is a great addition to the museum’s permanent exhibits and is unlike anything we have hosted before,” said Kerry Falwell, director of the museum’s education and community partnerships. “The allure of dinosaurs gives us the opportunity to introduce children to some really fun, science-themed content.”

The interactivity is the allure, says Craig. “That’s the best way for kids to learn. If they get to be part of it, they learn so much without even realizing it.”

[email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCamunas.

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