Monday, October 26, 2009

Things I Learned at the Museum of Play

We took Nathan to the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. As soon as we got through the door, he took off like a rocket to try each fun hands-on learning station. We were there for four hours and I don't know if we saw half of it. Nathan wanted an Iron Man costume for Halloween, so we let him wear it here, since there was a big Superhero section that just opened up.

In addition to the activity centers, they have displayed old toys and games from every era. You can find all kinds of things you forgot you ever had, or remember some friend that had one of those, and you couldn't believe their luck.
Here Nathan is serving Mommy at the restaurant.
Of course, Iron Man can handle a few boulders.

The arcade was really neat. Newer video games were side by side with vintage ones and some reeeeeallly old ones. I found out that Kristan was a Q*bert champ and she showed Nathan the ropes on some other ones.
Another neat feature of the museum is that there are quotes on all the walls of things great thinkers had to say about play, and I was furiously scribbling them down in my notebook. Some of them might help with a research project I'll be working on.

1. "Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion, but by play." -Plato
2. "Play is our brain's favorite way of learning." -Diane Ackerman, American author
3. "It is a happy talent to know how to play." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. "Almost all creativity involves purposeful play." - Abraham Maslow, American psychologist
5. "A child loves his play, not because it's easy, but because it's hard." - Benjamin Spock
6. "We all need empty hours in our lives, or we will have no time to create or dream." - Robert Coles, The Overscheduled Child (2001)
7. "Play is training for the unexpected." -Marc Bekoff, American biologist
8. "Play is the only way the highest intellect can unfold." -Joseph Chilton Pierce, American scholar
9. "The opposite of play is not a present reality, or work; it is vacillation; or worse, it is depression." -Brian Sutton-Smith
10. "Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities." -Stuart Brown, American psychologist


Ben Villarreal said...

Awesome! Is it just me, or are "children's" museums way cooler than "adult" ones? My wife's been doing a lot of museum internships, and one thing I'm learning is how poorly museums present themselves as "interesting." One project she's working on now is trying to help a science museum in DC market themselves better--based on their current website, I wouldn't visit :-/

Q*Bert?! I haven't played that in years. Fun fact: one of the best Q*Bert players in history was a 70-something grandmother--sadly, she passed away before accomplishing her later-life goal of having no less than the world record highest Q*Bert score :-( She did get really close though.

Still on video games, you should check out James Paul Gee's What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy--despite the title, it's more about how video games teach players how to play and what we as educators can learn from that kind of effective teaching.

Matt said...

Dude! Thanks for Following my blog. I checked out your links and SURPRISE! You're in my hometown: good ol' Rochester, NY. The Strong Museum is AMAZING. My family has a membership so I take my boys there whenever I get a chance. It's nice because we don't have to rush to try and get our money's worth every time. There's so much to do. By the way, great comics.

Paul Bozzo said...

PLAY! I tell everybody that we artists get to play every time we work on our art. I think that's the point.
I once heard at an in-service that people have four basic needs and "to have fun" was one of them.
The Iron Man costume looks really fun!