November 20, 2007

It Appears it IS Possible to be TOO Gross

Yesterday we traveled to the great city of Mobile, Alabama to check out their Explorium. It’s a children’s science museum. Their exhibit was ‘Grossology’.

It was gross.

Even my kids were grossed out.

It was all about bodily functions, what causes farting, belching, snot, mucus, puss, and scabs, and how the human digestive system works. It was interactive.

Just to give you an example of what we were getting into, unbeknownst to us, there was a slide for the littler people and then everyone could climb through the tunnel. The tunnel was the lower colon ending in the child being pooped out. I looked at Ringo and said, “Dude, climb through the tunnel and come out like poop. I’ll take your picture.” He looked at me like I was insane. “No”, was obviously the reply.

None of boys wanted to act like poop. Whoda thunk it.

There was a big nose that you could walk into, complete with black hair at the top of the entrance, where it had intricate detail from the hair to the tear ducts, to… everything. And then at the end, of its walking you through the nose… it sneezes. I ran out as quickly as I could when I realized that this damn cave nose was going to sneeze with ME in it, fearing it was going to be nasty and wet. Luckily it was just air, but considering what we witnessed there, I’m surprised it wasn’t icky.

There were machines created so a child could watch what happens in a stomach when drinking coke creates a burp.

Oh, and then there were the tubes that were simulating anuses, with pieces of rubber over the top so the child could make different sounding ‘toots’. It was just so very…wrong.

But the hightlight of Grossology, the one we continue to talk about, the one we cannot ever forget was… the smell test. The exhibit was about bacteria and the odors, the different odors they produce.

I walked up and there were four canister tube things. They were about 3 inches tall and were very narrow at the top. The directions said to squeeze it gently as you put your nose over it and guess the smell. Upon guessing the smell, you were to push one of four lighted buttons for choices. Of course… with four tubes… that meants that eventually each scent would be represented.

I got Mr. T to try it. I saw the four choices. No way in hell was I going to voluntarily smell them. I have to smell them pretty much day to day without wanting to.

First up… Mr. T put his nose to the tube, stepped back and said “EWwww” and he hit the button for ‘stinky feet’.

I suspect that the odor they had on exhibit was nothing compared to Ringo’s feet, but I had not the guts to see. No thanks.

Second, Mr. T put his nose to the tube, stepped back and said, “Uggggh… bad breath” as he hit the button for bad breath.

Now I’m watching thinking, “Really, are one of these two really going to be THAT one smell?”

He walked to the third, put his nose to the tube, grimaced at me and hit the button for arm pits.

That left the fourth and last tube. There was one choice left. I figured he’d not really been reading or didn’t know what the word meant. He bent down and smelled the last tube and quickly jumped back and screamed while holding his nose, ‘That smelled like crap! I smelled a butt!’

We could not quit laughing as he hit the last choice for ‘anus’. I asked him later, “T, what is up? Did you not read? Did you not know what an anus was? Did you not realize that with four choices were you inevitably going to get the bad one? Or did you think they wouldn’t really put a smelly butt smell?”

He replied, “Mom, I never thought they’d put butt. I really didn’t…”

Oh. But they did. Heh.

I think the biggest hit at the Explorium was an exhibit that appears to be permanent on the 2nd floor. You take a bar coded sheet of paper and scan it into the scanner and then sit at a computer and ‘create’ a roller coaster. It gives you choices of loops, hills and corkscrews and with each choice you make it explains whether it was a good choice or not and why it may not be a choice you can use.

For instance, my beginning hill was too long, and so friction stopped my car before it could make it on the down slope. The computer showed me a graphic and then came up with a suggestion to fix it, putting my slope on an x-y axis with red lines indicating on each axis what the best choices in height and length would be.

Very cool.

I added a corkscrew at one point and it said something like, “Your ride would require pulling 59 Gs. Pulling too many Gs can result in severe injury or death…” and then it explained what I needed to do to make it acceptable, once again giving me the x and y axis and controlling both width and height and then running it through a test again and again and again, until it worked.

This is where it gets really cool. At the end, you choose your ‘scene’, which is desert, toy room, snow mountain, and one other. There were a few. When the computer says you’re ready, you take your barcode into another room and scan it in the scanner there, and then sit in this rollercoaster car that is bolted in the middle of the room, facing a big screen.

From there, the roller coaster you just made plays out before you, like you are in the car, riding it. No kidding, the turns, the corkscrews, the scene… as if you were there. It is absolutely one of the coolest things we have ever done in a kids’ science museum, and I have hit many many science museums at various cities with my boys.

Two thumbs up. If you live near Mobile, you must do the Explorium. It was worth every cent. Or would that be scent?

Now we’re waiting for Grossology to make it to our woefully inadequate local science museum in Palm Beach County. I’m perpetually amazed that with the population we have and with the money in our county, that our science museum sucks as bad as it does. I hear it is up for renovation and that someone has poured money into it. Thankfully.

Mr. T is going to try convince his friends they need to do the smelling tubes…

Posted by Boudicca at November 20, 2007 09:51 PM | TrackBack

You mean Bones didn't want to be pooped out? I thought that would be right up his alley.

Posted by: Denny at November 20, 2007 10:20 PM

My boys would do it. They're teens. They'll do anything.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at November 20, 2007 10:35 PM

Where do I sign up?

I could probably qualify as an exhibit all by myself.

Posted by: Elisson at November 20, 2007 10:58 PM

Oh, Bou!!! That was so funny, it brought tears! I was reading it out loud to Arthur, and he was aghast that anyone would be connived into smelling the smells from the tubes. "Ok! You can stop reading now, Mom!" That's just funny! You grossed out Arthur vicariously. However, Thomas is made of much stiffer stuff, so I will have to run this by him. No mention of puke, though. Where's the puke? It would make a good segue to the roller coaster exhibit (which sounds like a whole lot of fun, btw).

Posted by: Peggy U at November 21, 2007 02:49 AM

Thomas read it. He is laughing. I knew it.

Posted by: Peggy U at November 21, 2007 02:56 AM

My boys are of the age that they would LOVE to be pooped out. Very funny. I hope we can see it.

Posted by: vw bug at November 21, 2007 08:07 AM

Denny- I was shocked. I really thought they'd want to be pooped out. I think the sweet little blonde haired girl we saw pooped out had no idea that's what she was doing. I said to Ringo, 'Watch, watch, there is blonde haired poop coming.' He was appalled.

Mrs. Who- And you may be right. It may have been an age issue... i'm in those 'tween years.

Elisson- I suspect I know a number of men who fit that profile! Heh!

Peggy- I looked up the tour dates as it moves, and there is nothing in your area. :( If y'all vacation though, take a look to see if its there. There was a section on vomiting. I missed it... but my boys' favorite part was this ball thing, where you take a nerf gun and shoot balls into this nose, the balls being green to simulate boogers and germs, and when they nose is full, it shoots it back at you. Good Grief.

VW- I thought of your boys when we were there. Oh trust me. It was on my list to make sure you go when it opens at our museum... Sept 2008.

Posted by: Bou at November 21, 2007 10:33 AM

Oh I would have loved to seen pictures. This sounds pretty cool. Maybe it will come to a museum in Boston sometime soon.

Posted by: Lukie at November 21, 2007 06:59 PM

I once worked for a scent company. We provided scents to museums and Halloween Horror Nights. Scents like Dino Dung, rotting flesh. Bou, on the days we had to make scent cartridges for clients requesting our foul scents, hoo boy, what a stench! We'd open all the doors (warehouse) and try to counteract the bad smells with powerful positive scents running in our machines in the front office. But it wouldn't matter. And the people who were actually handing the chemicals would get to go home early to take multiple showers to try to de-stench themselves. And they wore plastic jump suits to try to combat the stench clinging to their person.

heh. When I worked there (2002), it was the first year Universal used our scents in Hween Horror nights. We told them not to use the bad smells inside. Yet they ran Dino Dung inside one of the buildings. Once. And it was weeks before the smell finally subsided. We warned them! LOL!

I really loved that company. Pity they relocated to another state.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at November 21, 2007 10:45 PM

Wow. I had no idea there was such a thing as a stink factory! Do you guys have a suggestion box, or how do you come up with ideas?

Posted by: Peggy U at November 21, 2007 11:38 PM

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by: vw bug at November 22, 2007 06:50 AM

Peggy, they have a library of hundreds of scents. And most of them are good smells. And you might be surprised where you encounter them without realizing it. We marketed our scent machines as Muzak for the nose, and in fact, I think they are now partnered with Muzak. There are some major chain stores that utilize scent zones. The idea is if the store smells good, you'll linger longer and buy more. And in some applications (food stores), if you smell how wonderful something is, you're going to impulse buy it.

When I am out shopping, I am keenly aware of scents (because I worked there), and once I smell something, I search for the machine just to see if it's my company.

Best application: the M&M's store. You walk into the glorious scent of chocolate and even though I know it's a machine, I want to buy candy!

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at November 22, 2007 08:03 AM

That's really interesting! I had no idea they did things like that. Pier One must do that, because whenever I go there I smell like that place afterward! Where do they put the machines, and what do they look like? I want to see one!

Posted by: Peggy U at November 23, 2007 06:59 PM

Peggy, I'm going to email you rather than take up Bou's bandwidth.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at November 24, 2007 09:17 AM