Recently, while going through my old childhood books, I found my brother's dinosaur hunting license. It reads:
Dinosaur Hunting License
This license entitles its holder to hunt for, pursue, and remove from that area known as the Dinosaur Control Area of Duval County, Florida, which is in the vicinity of Lakewood Acute Care Center, the following types of reptilian wild game:
A. Tyrannosaurus Rex - 1 only (adult male)
The license goes on with some fine print details and is then signed by the Deputy Lizard Warden of Jacksonville, Florida.
While this license may seem quite silly, it actually has a wonderful function - getting children interested in, even fascinated by, science. While my brother and I were already quite the dinosaur fanatics and needed no encouragement towards science, fact or fiction, many children need a spark just like this one to fuel a lifelong love for science-related learning. In fact, many parks and schools offer this sort of encouragement by issuing dinosaur hunting licenses, arranging for local archaeological digs, and other educational, seriously fun activities.
For children with imaginations inclined towards the fantastic, Seattle just opened the Paul Allen Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. This gigantic center of the unreal offers wonderful exhibits of comic books, television shows, films, and other sources. Like the more traditional and equally enjoyable natural history and science museums, The Paul Allen museum has exhibits that appeal to all family members. Among the exhibits are those that are sure to spark curiosity about planet Earth, outer space, aliens, time travel, and missions to Mars.
But whether travel future or past, if museums are not on your family's ship log any time soon, there are always great books ready to inspire the imagination. Two of my favorites for young children are, How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen and Dinosaur by Peter Sis. For older children, there's a book on real dinosaurs titled A Dinosaur Named Sue by Scholastic Press. For even more options, you could always try managing your own dinosaur zoo, by playing the video game "Zoo Tycoon: Dinosaur Digs." In it, you get to play with dinosaurs while trying to run a successful zoo - and it's not an easy task.
Be it the Science Fiction Museum, a dinosaur hunting license, or books about dinosaurs, all will be sure to inspire kids for years to come.
Copyright 2004 © Laurie Taylor
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