Photos and story by Mollie Jo Swendrowski
What I am about to say may (or maybe not, depending on if you like reading my pieces) come as a shock to you: I am not a journalist by trade.
I did, however, plan to go to a university to study journalism. After one year at community college I decided to try working for Mickey Mouse, made a career change and ended up with a parks and recreation major (insert joke about the tv show here).
After experiencing a few job changes and a waning passion for insane hospitality hours, I decided to make a complete departure from my chosen career path and became a nanny.
I am lucky to spend almost every day with two year old twins I will call Ruby and Dean going forward. Just call me Mollie Poppins.
As almost any adult who spends most of their days with small humans will tell you, your sanity begins to slip after a while. You start talking to adults as if their comprehension level is much lower than it actually is. My poor boyfriend will attest to the fact that I am constantly picking things off him and trying to wipe his face in public (sorry, Adam).
To combat this I try to plan outings with the twins at least once a week. Last week we had the opportunity to attend a media preview at the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) for the Brain: The World Inside Your Head exhibit which opened on September 16.
Admittedly I was nervous taking two year old twins to a “real” museum. Driving to Grand Rapids my mind was reeling with questions. Will they listen today? Are they going to touch EVERYTHING? How much money do I have in my bank account to pay for something they might open in the gift shop? Will they manage to knock down the blue whale skeleton from the ceiling (this was in fact a valid concern)?
We arrived to Grand Rapids and managed to walk unscathed from the parking garage to the museum unscathed (one worry off my list). In an attempt to corral the kids, we took the stairs to the second story and were greeted by Kate Moore (Vice President of Marketing and PR for GRPM) and Christie Bender (Director of Marketing and a Newaygo High School graduate).
Christie showed us inside and immediately the twins took off at full speed, but lucky for me: 1. The exhibit was in a room with no way for them to escape unnoticed and 2. We were the only ones there.
When you first walk in the room, you actually walk into a brain. It took me by surprise at first, but when I stopped to look, there were brain specimens of other animals as well (Dean particularly thought the shark brain was cool).
Again, I was grateful for the fact that we were the only ones at the exhibit so I could take a look around and not worry extensively about the twins bothering others Which brings me to another benefit to this particular exhibit: it’s ability to cater to all ages. I was worried that the twins would be too young to entirely enjoy an exhibit explaining the inner workings of the human brain, but there were activities for different age levels. One they both particularly enjoyed was one where you had to raise a ball and send it down a nerve path. It lit up as it went, and kept them entranced.
In a close second was a spinning puzzle. I enjoyed helping them discover what brains went to what animal and what pieces of the brain went where, while they enjoyed spinning it and dumping the pieces and making me do it all over again.
This experience based exhibit truly does have a hands on learning experience for every age level. It’s genuinely intriguing to discover how far we have come since the brain was first being explored, and realizing how far we have to go.
I know that the twins and I will be making a return trip.
Brain: The World Inside Your Head runs through January 7, 2018.
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