For small fries, 4 floors of learningOn a gentle spring day, children as fresh as the weather are hopping in twos and threes into a tall white building downtown, an adult's hand guiding them along.
The group of small children, adorned in identical yellow hats and bearing name tags on their shirts, seem to forget their elder guardians as they scamper about. Pretty soon, all of the children's hands, feet and eyes are occupied, thanks to the engaging exhibits at the Samsung Children's Museum, which opened Thursday in southeastern Seoul.
Once the children figure out that they’re in a fun place, their pace quickens. Grabbing a low handrail devised especially for shorter torsos, they zip up stairs, a blur of yellow caps on the move.
Turning to the left, the tykes bend their backs to pass through a tiger's body in the Fairy Tale section, which portrays the fable “The Siblings Who Turned into the Moon and Sun.”
"Are you going to open the door when a tiger knocks on the door of our house?" a mother asks her daughter. The girl shakes her head and answers, "No. I am going to open the door only when I see mom's and dad's face."
Farther down the corridor, the world of nocturnal flying mammals awaits them. Here is perhaps the most popular experience: hanging out upside-down as bats do, thanks to special monitors that “flip” kids’ bodies.
The third floor holds an Exploring Science area, where displays are meant to inspire curiosity among budding young scientists. A round water-filled table, surrounded by kids manning pumps that create fountains of water, displays the power of water. The frenzied children cause bedlam around an exhibit intended to demonstrate gravity: A coin picks up speed as it forms ever-smaller circles descending down a funnel. Here, a parent quizzes her child: "Want to bet that a 10-won coin will fall quicker than a 100-won coin?"
After walking on crutches or riding a wheelchair in the Human Body area, children rapidly learn the difficulties the disabled experience daily.
The fourth floor’s Money World contains paper and coin currencies from around the world, and dispenses information on the history of money. Serving no scientific purpose other than to provide rest for the weary parents and toddlers, the fourth floor also has a playground filled with toy cars and dolls.
To get to the museum, take line No. 2 to Jamsil Station, then exit 8. Walk straight one block and turn left. The museum is open daily except Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is 4,000 won ($3.25) for adults, 5,000 won for children, 2,000 won for children 3 and under.
For more information, call (02) 2143-3600 or visit www. samsungkids.org.
by Cha Bok-hee