Reptiles Up Close at CMOST

This past weekend, JSL had a birthday party to attend.  While B and him went to the party, NHL and I stopped by CMOST for some fun of a different kind.  B had taken the boys there recently, but it had been awhile since I had gone.

NHL showed me the Molecularium show in the planetarium and he loved going to each station to learn more about nanotechnology.  Of course, while that was fun, the photographer in me loved the reptile room the most.

First, there was a box turtle that they were taking care of.


Unfortunately, the previous owner had fed it the wrong foods.  (Raw eggs and chicken are NOT turtle food!)  Thanks to this, the turtle had developmental problems.  For example, one of its rear feet would periodically get stuck in its shell.  NHL, sadly informed the staff member that he hoped the turtle would get better.  The staff member let NHL know that while it wouldn’t ever recover, they would take good care of it.

NHL wanted them to take out the boa constrictor so he could see it up close.  Unfortunately, they said they couldn’t do this.  It had just eaten and moving it now would risk the snake either throwing up its food (and risking starvation) or puncturing an internal organ.  So the snake stayed in its cage to digest its meal over the next few months.  I was able to shoot a photo of it from behind the glass as it finished off a nice, yummy mouse.


The leopard gecko kept staring at us from it’s log perch and we marveled both at its spots and its bumpy hide.


NHL loved the bearded dragon and begged me to take a photo of it.  (Quite impressive since he’s usually complaining that all the photos I take are slowing him down.)


Later, we sat down as a staff member explained to us about some species of animals that live all along the Hudson River from the beginnings in Lake Tear of the Clouds to its ending in New York Harbor.  She fed some trout that they have and we sat awestruck as they went nuts splashing around trying to get a scrap of food.  They do feed the trout regularly, of course, but the trout seem to go nuts anytime there’s food present.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say they just loved putting on a show.

The stars of the show were the turtles, of course.

First up was the box turtle.  We got some more information about it.  For example, box turtles are so named because not only can they retract into their shell, but they have a special hinge and muscle that pulls the shell shut over their head.  This closes them in (like a box) so that it is almost impossible for predators to eat them.

Of course, predators should think twice before eating them anyway.  Box turtles can eat many things, including mushrooms that are poisonous to any other animal.  The toxins build up in their system making them a not-so-pleasant treat.  Early settlers quickly found out that they got sick when they made turtle stew from box turtles.


By the way, the red eyes mean that this is a boy.  Girl box turtles have brown eyes.


After this was the Diamondback Terrapin.  This turtle is more aquatic and loves spending its time swimming through the water.  While they usually eat small fish, the three brothers that CMOST has were raised in captivity and don’t know how to catch their own food.

diamondback-terrapin2 diamondback-terrapin

Many questions were asked by everyone attending.  I wondered how long the turtles could hold their breath.  After all, while watching them swim, it didn’t seem like they regularly came up for air.  The staff member replied that it is a long time, but they really don’t know how long exactly.  They’ve noticed the turtles going underwater to sleep for a few hours.  Quite impressive little turtle.


NHL and I had a blast at CMOST and left knowing a lot more about reptiles than we did before.  I just love visiting places that are both fun and educational.

What is your favorite kind of reptile?

Science Museum Fun

P1080754On Saturday, my parents were in town and we were trying to decide what to do with them and the boys.  At first, we thought about Hoffman’s, a local amusement park, but the clouds in the sky threatened to rain (and carried through on their threat once or twice).  Then, we tried to go to the New York State Museum, but there was some event going on that shut much of that area down.  After finding a spot to park and regroup, we decided to go to the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology.

We entered, paid, and found out that a show – Astronaut – was going to begin in a minute or two.  So we went there first.

When you enter the planitarium, you notice the odd seating arrangement.  Except for some chairs at the back, all of the seating comes in the form of colorful mats to lay down on.  These were surprisingly comfortable and afforded a great view of the screen as we looked up.  Yes, the screen is on the ceiling.


The movie was great.  It detailed just what astronauts need to do to get ready to go into space and what dangers awaited them.  ("Chad" better get some hazard pay after he was killed so many times!)

After the show, we wandered around the museum.  Since this is a children’s museum, not only are kids allowed to touch most of the exhibits, they are encouraged to.  We rotated windmills to generate power for a town.  JSL touched a snake.  We saw two owls.  We (well, the boys and I) entered a beaver’s lodge.  JSL rowed a canoe.  We even made some virtual trees grow by touching a wall.

There was too much to describe everything, so instead here are a series of photos from our visit.


In the end, this was a fun and educational excursion.  Given that it is inexpensive as well (adults and children over 2 are only $5 each and shows are an additional $1 each), I could definitely see this becoming a repeat destination.

Fun Times At The New York State Museum, Part 3

Over the last two days, I’ve recounted how we saw animals and made seed packets.  I also told of our train ride to Sesame Street.  Now it was time for what was going to be arguably the kids’ favorite time of the trip: The carousel.


First, a little history.  This isn’t a new carousel.  It’s quite old.  It was first made between 1912 and 1916, but some of the horses date to the 1890’s.


The operator told us that it is given 15 minute rest times between runs to prevent breakdowns.  In fact, we were told, it’s so old that if it ever breaks down, they won’t be able to fix it!  Still, 15 minutes is an easy wait as the upside to this being an older carousel is that it goes faster than more recent ones.

During our first run, JSL and Cousin S took seats in a spinner.  NHL and Cousin B grabbed side-by-side horses.


Talk about old, this is what played the music to go along with the ride.


After this first run, we looked at a few exhibits that were on this floor.  Then, the kids enjoyed some rock candy.


I even got a nice photo of a church that is right next to the museum.  Love the architecture.


Before we knew it, our 15 minute wait was over and it was time for ride number 2.  Cousin B took a horse again.  JSL and Cousin S took side-by-side horses.  NHL decided to ride by himself on a spinner.  (This was on the other side of the carousel so I couldn’t get good photos of him from where I was supervising JSL and Cousin S.)


When the ride was over, the kids went back to their rock candy until it was time for one final ride.  This time, NHL and JSL mounted matching donkeys,  Meanwhile, Papa went on the spinner with Cousins S & B.


During the ride, I noticed the beautiful marble eyes that the animals had.


Finally, the ride was over and it was time to leave.  Mind you, this was over protests of "one more ride."  Still, it was getting late and we needed to leave.  It was a fun time and the boys are already itching to go back.

Fun Times At The New York State Museum, Part 2

Yesterday, I began the tale of our trip to the New York State Museum.  As I ended part 1, the kids were running off to see more exhibits.

They first ran into a dinosaur.  They all marveled the dino standing in front of them.  I was barely able to get them to hold still long enough to pose for a photo.


A little further down, they loved seeing, first, a whale’s skull and then a whole whale skeleton.


Even the complete whale skeleton couldn’t measure up to the exhibit were were looking for: Sesame Street.  We wound our way through the museum, relying mostly on my fuzzy memory of where it was.  Then we spotted something that I didn’t remember:  An old A-Train car.

This car was presented in such a way as to let people walk in it and sit in its seats.  The kids were instantly in love.  They ran all around it abuzz with excitement.


As we exited the train, I spotted the familiar face of a certain large, yellow bird.  We had found the way to Sesame Street.


I’ll admit that the exhibit was smaller than I remember.  (I think I half-remembered a larger exhibit from another museum.)  Still, the kids loved seeing even the small portion of Sesame Street.  A bench was positioned so kids could watch snippets of the show on a small television.

Before long, they got restless, though, and it was back to the train car.


Our next big location to visit was the carousel.  However, the boys and I stumbled upon a hidden gem.  A collection of old fire trucks.  What kid doesn’t like fire trucks?


These were right near the second of the museum’s two 9-11 exhibits.  This one included (among other things) a heavily damaged fire truck and a girder from the Twin Towers.  I must admit that I had to touch it and bow my head a bit when I encountered the latter of the two.  Thankfully, the kids were so distracted by the fire trucks they had just seen and the promise of the carousel to come, that they didn’t seem to notice what we were walking by.


Once this was done, we headed for the elevators and went up to ride the carousel.

To be concluded tomorrow.

Fun Times At The New York State Museum, Part 1

On Saturday, with Aunt M, Uncle I, Cousin S, and Cousin B in town, we tried to figure out something fun to do with the kids.  We decided upon the New York State Museum.  Not only is it a nice, bit indoor space with some nice exhibits, but there was a craft activity for the kids to do and a carousel.  Just to sweeten the deal, all of this is free.

As we pulled up, we found a spot right near the museum.  The kids excitedly got out of the cars and headed in.  NHL pointed out one of the only skyscrapers that Albany has.  (I grew up near New York City, so I’m used to seeing a lot more skyscrapers.)  He also spotted that odd-shaped building in Albany known as "The Egg" (used for concerts and shows).


Heading in, we asked where the kids craft activity was and headed right for it.  On the way, we passed by one of the two 9-11 exhibits.


The kids weren’t too interested in these, of course, but they got very interested once we found the animal exhibits.



There were also the minerals/rocks which the kids surprisingly liked.  Mainly, I think, because of the colors and sparkliness.


Then, we got to one of their favorite sections: Kids Cove.  In this area, were many animal skins, skulls, leaves and other items for kids to examine close up.  Whereas most of the museum is hands-off, this section encouraged kids to pick up and take a closer look at the items.  (Don’t mind the jackets.  The kids were so excited by all that they saw that they didn’t want to stop to remove them yet.)


Leaving here, we located a Woolly Mammoth.  This was one of our original directions to find the craft table.


The Woolly Mammoth led us to a Native American village, complete with a house we could walk into.


And Native American wedding clothing.


Finally, we found another mammoth.  This one, however, was more skeletal than his friends.


Right by him was the craft table.  We had located our first major stop: Kid Crafts.  The kids settled in and drew, cut, and pasted shut envelopes.  Into these envelopes went some wild flower seeds.  Then, they glued the envelope shut and were done.

The person running the event was great.  She was able to recover from bad cuts and bad gluing.


After the crafts were done, I got Cousin S and JSL to pose by a nearby dinosaur fossil.


Then, off we went to see more.


Tomorrow: Trains, Fire Trucks and Sesame Street!

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