The other day I went to the Kennedy Space center with my almost-7-year-old. For most part, it was a good day. It was a nice end to a great weekend. I enjoyed just about all of the Space Center. My son did not.
Now, there were things that could be improved. The bus schedule for the tours was pretty bad. I stood in one line watching while three busses picked up from another location, waiting until the one for my destination showed up. Start times were often delayed. But, most things ran like clockwork. The exhibits were interesting. The “experiences”, while not actual rides, were some what thrilling. Of course, the IMAX experiences were larger than life.
About three hours in I began to hear words like, “I’m bored” and “when can we…” from my son. It’s not like he didn’t enjoy what we were doing, it’s just that some of the things at the Space Center did not communicate to him. After the fourth or fifth model, he was done looking at models. Even the video clips couldn’t hold his attention.
There is one exhibit about robots, which seemed to be geared for kids, but he did not even want to wait through it. Just because something is video does not mean kids will engage with it. About halfway through the first section we were moving on. Kids won’t stand for long spoken segments even if there are from animated robots. He wants action, not just information.
My son loves to read books about machines and rockets. Yet, when we go to an exhibit of pictures of machines and rockets, he is not really interested. Reading is one level of interaction, but when he is in an exhibit, he wants a whole new level of experience. If he is half a mile from the real thing, don’t try to show him a model. Don’t show him an animation of someone talking, show him something happening. At one point we walked into an exhibit on nature. There were no actual animals, just models. We literally walked in and around and out.
The only thing he really connected with was the “Shuttle Launch Experience” and he made me go twice. It was every bit as informative as other exhibits, but it was more than just information on display boards. It took us through the experience of a shuttle launch. That connected with my son.
If the Kennedy Space Center wants to get kids excited about space, NASA, rockets, and going to the moon they will have to continue to update their experiences. A few more exhibits like the “Shuttle Launch Experience” and my son would be begging to go back. He had a good time, but he hasn’t asked when we are going back.
How does the church communicate with kids? Is their experience OK, or do they want more and more?