Gwacheon National Science Museum

 Mountains from the park
What to do on a rainy day in Seoul… especially when your husband is working nights and sleeping in your hotel room during the day? Monsoon season decided to show up and the past few days have been quite rainy. We went to an indoor playground at the mall one day, and I knew we needed to get out and about for Landon’s sanity, so the science museum sounded like a good bet. We took the metro for about an hour and popped out on the other side of some mountains that hid the city from our view. It seemed like we were in a beautiful un-populated place! It was very near Seoul Grand Park, so I want to go back when there is better weather. On a slightly related note, I appreciate the mountains/hills here. I didn’t realize how much they add to the landscape after living in flat-as-a-pancake Chicago area. 

Korean museums are the real deal. This was no exception. There was a huge children’s area with play structures and tons of stuff to do for all ages. Some of Landon’s favorites were a ball transporter thing that took balls that you put in and sucked them up a tube and put them in a bin high above that tipped over once full. He spent most of his free time in there. There was also this giant play structure that he ran up while I was getting situated down below. When I had a good look at it, I realized that I should go see where he went because there were at least 6 exits, and I didn’t want him to get lost. It took me about 3 minutes to walk all the way up to the top and find him. He was in this room playing with cars. He didn’t realize that the table was being recorded and projected up on the wall. The premise was to build a city that you could see on the TV. He just liked the cars.

The ball area was completely enclosed and had 1 exit. Perfect for trapping little boys!

Other things in the kids area that Landon liked included a wall that had projected flowers and grass on it, and if you touched it, butterflies would appear! Exciting! There was another where it had projected fish on the ground and you could walk in the water and the projection would make ripples like real water. There was a Rube Goldberg type contraption with water and balls, and you could squirt different things or open valves to make balls go different places within the exhibit. 
I have been watching closely at our other outings and noticed most Koreans bring cup of noodles to their outings because there is an abundance of hot water at convenience stores and sometimes even within the museum. I brought a big noodle bowl for Landon and I to share, and asked the convenience store clerk for water. It was a perfect day for it because it was raining. Landon loves noodles and ate about half. We also shared Dippin’ Dots while the noodles cooled, because the man wouldn’t acknowledge my presence to give me water unless I was buying something else. Landon thought the ice cream balls were pretty cool.  Then he wanted to explore, unfortunately in the middle of a downpour. I ventured out under the umbrella to take some pictures of him as he explored these trains.

Of course, the next logical occurrence was that Landon took the umbrella from me. He loves umbrellas. He walked around for awhile under the umbrella while I took pictures from under a tent covered area. He even picked me a flower and brought it to me. What a little gentleman!
After lunch, I thought it was a good time for nap. Landon wanted to play in the infant playroom. There were other bigger kids in there, and technically he is still in the age range, so I let him play. I was watching him as he climbed in and out of this house in the picture below. A little girl went inside and I think she was trying to keep Landon out of the house. She looked to be between ages 4-5, much bigger than Landon with long hair. I started hearing screams, not Landon screams. I thought it was the baby that was in the room, but she was fine. It was coming from inside the house! I ran over and pulled Landon off of this poor little girl. Landon had clumps of her hair wound in his fingers and didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact she was screaming. Even after I pulled him off and put him in time-out, she was still screaming and crying in the house. Her mom was nowhere to be found, so I went over and helped her out and tried to fix her hair, which was all messed up. She was not a happy camper. I wish I knew some Korean to tell her sorry! I also wish she had some gumption to defend herself so Landon learned that pulling hair is not good. Landon got a long time out into nap time for that one. 

It was time for nap and so we went into the basic science hall. There were all kinds of exhibits. Landon liked watching the wave generator. You could adjust the amplitude and frequency to see which waves made it furthest up the shore. He correctly identified the beach! There were cool chambers where you could experience a typhoon and an earthquake. Landon is a little young for these, so we skipped them. I thought maybe the “Advanced Science and Technology Halls” would put him to sleep.

It worked! Given, the whole museum is in Korean with limited English subtitles so I was not able to have the full experience, but there were a few exhibits talking about genetics, and some interactive things to do that would be fun when Landon is a few years older. There were exhibits about climate change and a history of computers. They spent a long time talking about how integrated technology and sensors will be so good for the world, and did not spend a lot of time talking about how little privacy that leaves the world’s citizens. 

This exhibit used facial recognition software to tell you which scientist you resemble. I got Gregor Mendel. I have a brother named Greg? There were several exhibits in this section using Kinnect technology and cameras to show various things, like interfacing with a computer without keyboard and mouse, or touching, just waving hands. I think I needed to speak Korean and read Korean to get the most of these exhibits because I couldn’t read the directions. Also, Landon fell asleep, so I had time to play around a bit on my own. Whenever I go to these type of museums, I realize how much stuff there is to know about the world, and how little I actually know, or remember. I feel like a well-educated woman, but because I’ve specialized so intensely into one field (physical therapy), there is much that I learned over the years that has fallen off the edge of my brain. I am looking forward to learning it all over again with my kids, and hope I can foster an environment of creativity and a love of learning in my future home (when we have a home!) I am also grateful for electronic devices so that even before we have a home with tons of books and science experiments going on we can still look things up on the internet! Hooray!

In this game, I don’t really get the point, but it used Kinnect cameras to make a robot version of yourself. I guess this is what I look like while I’m taking pictures! After playing with many exhibits and seeing which areas Landon would enjoy once he woke up from his nap, I sat down and had took a break reading my book on my phone. So relaxing!

Eventually all little boys wake up, and I took my break in the airplane and space section because I knew he would love it when he woke up. I was so right! He called the moon lander and dune buggy a golf cart, and wanted to sit in it.

He wasn’t sure about the astronaut… kind of big and scary!

There were a few planes including a model of a giant airbus. Landon walked around yelling “DANE! DANE!” for awhile before getting bored. Side note- we are working on getting him to stop sucking his fingers! If he is not tired, or scared, or unsure, he is fine, but after just waking up from a nap in a huge room full of airplanes, he was all about the fingers!

See the velociraptor going through Landon?

Next, we visited the nature part of the museum. When we walked in, I was focused on the dinosaur bones and fossils, but Landon noticed this big screen and started yelling “MOM!” I looked up and saw myself on the screen and some velociraptors hanging out with us. It was cool, but Landon was a little scared when a T-rex came roaring across the screen a little later.

Landon’s favorite was actually the wooly mammoth skeleton, he called it a DENT! (elephant)

Another great kid exhibit- jeeps where you could explore the natural areas in Korea. As you drove along the road, there were pictures that would pop up of famous natural places in Korea. Landon drove once with me pushing on the pedal and the best part of this game is that you can’t crash or go off course! Landon also liked just sitting there watching other people and enjoying being in a car.

For the last part of the day, we visited the traditional Korean science section of the museum. They had the science behind many contraptions used for construction, etc and also the fermentation science behind kimchi. There were several exhibits explaining traditional Korean medicine, which sounded quite similar to what I understand of traditional Chinese medicine, which isn’t much. Kind of like Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine) in that there were different types of people who had different physical and personality traits, and how they come down with different illnesses and need different diets, etc. Also they do acupuncture. It was very fascinating for me, but we had to move on quickly because it was not fascinating for Landon. What was fascinating for Landon was this comparison of Western and Eastern rowing styles. They had instructions on how to row, and measured speed and distance. The platform even rocked back and forth like a boat. Landon was a fan.

Before we left, I knew we needed to revisit this sports car in the basic science section. It measured reaction time for a variety of circumstances (bad weather, driving drunk, etc.) with both visual and auditory stimuli. Unfortunately this Korean boy who is old enough to know better did not want to share and so continued to play the game over and over and not let Landon have a turn. He didn’t have a parent around…
We were sad when it was time to leave. We went outside and it was a wonderful, but hot and sticky, sunshiney day! We wanted to make the train ride back to see Austin who was waking up, otherwise I would have taken Landon to see the outside Dinosaur park. Maybe next week, if we are here. 
Speaking of that, things are more up in the air than ever. My ability to be patient and just go with the flow is being tried, but I’ve started just planning one day ahead, or day of, in order to combat this. Also, I think I am going to do a half marathon at some point to have something to train for when I go for my runs here. Yay!


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