Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

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Time Travel on Land or Sea
Local Exhibits Take Visitors Back in Time

by Kimberly Harms

September 01, 2010

Take the family on a cruise back in time on board a recreation of the Titanic this fall at the Indiana State Museum. If your kids are anything like mine, forget books and movies if you want to hold their attention for any period of time—particularly if you link the word ‘learning’ to it. Offering up a chance to pretend they are one of the passengers aboard the Titanic presents a lot more mystery and intrigue. The beauty of this exhibit is that it allows the kids (and you) to play and learn a thing or two together.

Here’s how it works: As you enter the exhibit, each visitor receives a replica boarding pass of an actual passenger who was on board the ship. You then begin a chronological journey through the life of the Titanic starting with the ship’s construction, to life on board, the ill-fated sinking and amazing artifact rescue efforts. Along the way, you will discover more than 240 artifacts recovered from the Ship’s debris field and see some of them in authentic room re-creations, such as first- and third-class cabins and hallways.

Just imagine your child’s face when he puts his hand up against an iceberg while learning about the heroes who tried to save the ship and her passengers. In the end, visit the “Memorial Gallery,” where you can take your boarding pass to the memorial wall and discover whether your passenger and traveling companions survived or perished. While Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet captured a fictional romance on board the vessel, it also ignited a love affair with the vessel and what it might have been like on board the world’s largest passenger ship back in 1912.

We all know she struck an iceberg and sank, killing some 1500 people, many rich and famous, in one of the worst disasters at sea. But most don’t know about the many other purposes the ship served, such as carrying mail. (I know my kids don’t understand what we did in the “olden days” before e-mail and texting.)

Here’s a little primer for you before you wow the kids and show them how smart you are: Tell them this whopper weighed 46,329 tons. A little tip to remember is that kids will comprehend better if you give them something they can compare. So, 46,329 tons is about the weight of 10,071 African elephants. The ship measured 882 feet 9 inches long, which would be the equivalent of three football fields.

Another way to get the kids thinking is to tell them that it happened in the middle of the night and took two hours and 40 minutes to sink. Ask them to think of ways they might have tried to save each other in that situation. You might be surprised at some of the answers and you can apply it to modern day accidents to make them think about safety without lecturing on what to do in different situations. Other topics you could discuss might include why there weren’t enough lifeboats on board or why other ships didn’t come to rescue them quicker.

The exhibit is open from September 25, 2010 to January 2011 at the Indiana State Museum. Tickets are available before the exhibit opens.

Another option might be to take a trip back a few more decades on land at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park.

September is Country Fair time at Conner Prairie. The whole family will discover what an authentic country fair was like when your great grandparents were kids back in the 1800s. The Country Fair runs September 18 – 19 and features everything from harvested crops to rare breeds of animals.

No visit would be complete without a visit to the Apple Store on the east side of the grounds. It’s open throughout September and October and will tempt your taste buds with everything from chewy gooey caramel apples to mouth-watering cider.

And those who are looking for a date night with music under the stars will want to check out Symphony on the Prairie. There are a couple of concerts still left this season. Enjoy the Music of Buddy Holly & Friends on September 2–3. There you will see John Mueller, who starred as Buddy Holly in the national tour of the Broadway musical The Buddy Holly Story. He will be joined by Ray Anthony as Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper’s son, Jay Richardson, as they perform their respective rock hits “Oh Boy,” “La Bamba,” and “Chantilly Lace.”

Those who choose the River City Brass Band on September 4–5 will be treated to one of America’s finest and most versatile brass ensembles. Big band, swing, and jazz are just a few of the musical sounds that will drift across the prairie as you relax on a blanket or in the picnic table area.

Sometimes, it is necessary to take a step back in time to appreciate what we have today. Take the kids with you to the concert, as well. There is plenty of dancing and room to run—and maybe they will wear themselves out and fall asleep in the car on the way home.

Kimberly Harms has four children (5-24) along with a grandchild and is the associate director of media relations at the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, www.visitindy.com. You can follow her on Twitter @kimberlyharms.