As you may have read in the August issue of The Zone Magazine, we recently enjoyed the Turkey hill Experience and, while there, had the opportunity to buy a combined ticket that also included a visit to The National Watch and Clock Museum. We decided to go for it when they said we didn’t have to do both in one day.
The morning of our planned trip to the museum, I scoured the web for other things to do in that area, afraid that a clock museum would be a little boring for the kids. I had little luck in finding something that didn’t require an advanced reservation so off we went, with me silently praying this didn’t end my streak of no “I’m Bored” moments this summer.
I worried without reason. This museum is GREAT! On Mondays they have a make and take project (for an additional, reasonable fee). On the Monday of our visit, the kids were offered the opportunity to make a real working clock for $6.00.
They were able to choose from several background designs for their clocks. My son, the John Deere fan that he is, chose the John Deere Green one. My daughter, who is obsessed with purple, chose a nice purple one. They were then able to choose from three different number styles and each picked the one suited for their personalities – my son, an easy to read “normal” looking clock and my daughter – one that had more of a designer feel. The clocks were a hit with the kids and I was feeling that my prayers were being answered.
Next, we headed into the museum. They provide scavenger hunt sheets for the children who were interested. We picked them up but were so amazed by the sheer volume of clocks and watches that we didn’t really use them. The museum has QR codes throughout and it does have wi-fi so bring along your i-Touches, i-Pods or any other device that reads them. I do not have a smart phone but my cousin, who was with us, did and he scanned them all. What a neat addition to the experience. We may just fill out those sheets here at home and learn even more!
What impressed me most about this museum is the number of interactive exhibits and the nice, take home activities they provide for children. The first interactive display allowed us to learn how and ancient water clocks (Clepsydra (klep-si-dra)) worked. The kids loved putting the bowl in and guessing how long it would take for each bowl to fill.
There was an exhibit focussing on sundials and the kids made sundials to bring home. They were made of paper and the kids are excited to give them a try to test their accuracy. The display said they should be within about 45 minutes of the actual time and since it is summer, that is accurate enough for me…except when it comes to bedtime for the kids!
In another area, the children were able to make a clock face to assist in practicing their time telling skills at home. There were several choices of faces and clock hands which I thought was a nice touch.
We happened to be there close to the top of the hour when the Engle Clock, also known as the eighth wonder of the world, rings in the new hour. This amazing clock took 20 years to build and has many special features, which I will leave for you to discover when you visit.
One thing I learned is that the same mechanism used for clocks is used in music boxes and several kinds of toys. I always love it when the kids and I are having fun and learning at the same time, especially when they are having too much fun to realize it is an actual learning experience. There were several toys the kids could play with to see that mechanism in action so, although there were places where touching was not allowed (with good reason), there’s plenty of hands on fun too.
The Museum has events several times a year. In November they have “A Night of Time Travel” family sleep over. For more information check out www.museumoftime.org.
I highly recommend the combined ticket. The only thing better than one fun summer activity is two! If I had to do it again I would purchase the Museum Guide for a small fee (I bought it when we were done as I didn’t see it when we arrived) and also a guide to the Engle Clock so you don’t miss any of the special features of this amazing clock.
Summer isn’t over yet but no bored kids so far. Our next adventure is in the planning stage but on very hot days, indoor crafts are the flavor of the day. I highly recommend http://www.dltk-kids.com/ for educational fun crafts you can print out and do at home.
Michele Evans Wieland (pictured below with her husband, Charles)