We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Natural History Museum on the U of U campus! There is so much to see we usually spend all day and still end up skipping a few things. I was so excited when they invited us down to experience their new highlight tour, because with 5 little ones I sometimes don't get to read every plaque and know exactly what I am looking at. Also, they shared some cool stories and facts that are sort of 'insider knowledge' and aren't actually listed anywhere on their signage.
The tours are only an additional $2 for adults, and they are FREE for children under 12. So if I go and pay $2, my 5 kids are all able to listen in as well and then they actually learn something with a magical little voice speaking in their heads while the wander around and look and things and poke everything in sight! Win-Win!
I never realized, but these cute little tags are all over the museum and you can use your smart phone to find out more about each exhibit by typing in the unique code found on each tag. Pretty cool, free, walking, self-guided tour-like feature.
I love watching my toddlers walk on this glass exhibit, they are terrified and walk as if they were on ice and about to fall in at any moment... every single one of my kids at that age! I never realized until going on the tour though that reason it is numerous panes of glass is because it is an exact replica of a dig site and they actually mark out the dinosaur find on a grid system and then carry each section back to the museum and are able to keep everything organized.
During our highlights tour I also learned about how to tell if a dinosaur skeleton was real or just a replica... the industry tagline is apparently, "If there's no steel, it ain't real."
So this guy with a ton of metal supports holding him together is a real bone structure.
Whereas this more flawless looking model has very little supporting steel and is therefore a replica. Kind of fun to learn all the little facts that I never picked up coming here before going on their tour.
They have tons of volunteers that are trained and get to lead the tours, go on the digs, help clean up dinosaur bones etc. Then they have a few people also just sitting out throughout the museum with different hands on displays set up. We always seem to run into one or two pop-up exhibits that are always different and engaging.
Another cool fact we learned about this little guy, he actually eats so much that he looses his flight capabilities temporarily while his internal digestive organs grow to a massive size and his wing muscles shrink. They then revert back when it is time to migrate and he becomes airborne again. I loved that the kids could hear these cool little tidbits while still wandering around looking at what they were most interested in.
The entire guided tour lasted about an hour and then we went off on our own to explore the remainder of the museum and revisit some of their favorite spots. My littlest one had a hard time keeping his headset on and even dropped it once... but we were able to just pop the batteries back in, make a few adjustments and he was fine the remainder of the tour. So kids at least as young as 3 manage just great!