Kids and Science Museums: Please Do Not Eat the BeetlesThe hot summer season is winding down and fall is closing in. To get your kids enthused about the new school semester, consider taking them for a fun, illuminating visit to a nearby science museum and letting them unravel the mysteries of science.
Seoul Education & Science Research Institute
"Wow, I usually weigh 40 kilograms, but in water, I only weigh 31 kilograms!" said Yu Jin-young, 12, a student at Jung-dong Elementary School in Seoul. He was wandering around the Planetary Weight Center, where various differently weighted scales allow students to compare what their weights would be on other planets to their weight on Earth and in water.
Last week, Jin-young and his father visited the research and learning center, located from the first basement level to the fourth floor in the Seoul Education & Science Research Institute.
The Seoul Education & Science Research Institute also boasts a planetarium that allow visitors to stargaze and learn about the night sky － indoors. About 3,000 stars are projected on the ceiling inside a special hall. Visitors can listen to narration about the changing scene above them, such as how the patterns of stars change through the seasons (in Korean). There are five sessions a day, at 11 a.m. and every hour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. A maximum of 120 visitors are allowed in at each session and the screening runs for 25 minutes.
The specimen room contains 3,000 samples of 700 insect species found in Korea, including a pair of long-horned beetles found only in Kyonggi province. These beetles are so rare － only 10 are estimated to remain on the peninsula － that they have been designated a national treasure.
The aquatic room is also a special attraction as it contains 500 native freshwater fish of 30 species, including the broadstriped bitterling, a brightly colored fish with a grey-green back, and the shiri, which lives in the central regions of Korea.
The exhibition also has games that encourage learning about centripetal force, and an experiment corner that explores the human body.
Opening hours are Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no entrance fee, but if you are visiting in a large group, please apply one week in advance to 02-311-1263.
How to get there: Get off at Hoehyeon station on subway line No. 4, exit No. 1. It's a 20 minute walk to the Institute, situated in front of Namsan Library. For more information, call 02-3111-281~4 or visit www.sesri.re.kr
National Seoul Science Museum
"This museum shows more diversity in items on display than any other science museum, and I find the exhibitions very educational," said Jung Gui-ok, a museum visitor and mother of an elementary student and an junior high school student. The museum, in front of Changgyeong Palace, is known for its excellence in the fields of natural science and science and technology.
Technological innovations of Korea's history are on display, such as rain gauges and water clocks. Together with exhibits from more recent advances, such as a model of the Saturn V Rocket, once part of the Apollo 11 rocket that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. On display in the natural science room are more than 3,600 plants and animals.
In the shark room, a stuffed fox shark, with a tail longer than its entire body, usually gives students a scare. There are 60 other stuffed sharks whose habitats are the seas around the Korean peninsula. Birds are also displayed, divided according to habitat － freshwater, city, sea or forest.
Take a stroll outside and you'll see a theater with sci-fi movies and an old narrow gauge train, trolley bus and airplane. Model airplane classes are open to students at science colleges and elementary school students.
The museum opens Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. in the months from November to February). The entrance fee is 1,000 (77 cents) won for adults and 500 won for those aged 7 to 19. Advantages are given to members of the National Science Museum, including free entrance and a 50 percent parking discount.
How to get there: It's a 10 minute walk from exit No. 4 of Hyehwa station on subway line No. 4. For more information, call 02-3675-5114~6 or 02-762-5205.
by Lee Han-won