Planting the Seed of Science: The Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden
by Jayne Chobot Herring
Kids are amazing. Their natural curiosity about the world around them can be so contagious. But sometimes it can be exhausting as you try to find more ways to entertain them and, as I like to tell my 5-year old daughter Inara, fill their little brains.
American children are testing lowest in Earth sciences (sadly), and the goal of the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is to educate preschoolers through pre-teens in a fun and interactive outdoor laboratory setting. It was named for Rory Meyers, an active member of our community and the Arboretum for over a decade who provided (along with her husband and grown sons) the lead gift to build the 8-acre, 150 interactive exhibit outdoor science museum at the Dallas Arboretum.
My little sneak peak involved following Inara around as she instinctively turned into a scientist, running from exhibit to exhibit, asking questions and listening as the employees and volunteers shared their passions with her. It was wonderful and I beamed with pride.
Between exhibits, we cooled off in adorable pergolas with misting systems, crawled around “A Walk in the Clouds” looking out over White Rock Lake, watched an absolutely disgusting (but cool) 3-D video of bugs and spiders, and ran through dancing fountains. She used water, sunlight, and wind to create energy in ways that fascinated us both.
We didn’t see everything; with 150 exhibits we will have to return quite a few times. But the highlight for both of us was the OminiGlobe. I watched as she was drawn to it across the room, sitting in awe next to the guide as the 5-foot sphere was made to look like our planet, demonstrating continental drift, ocean currents, geology and ecosystems around the world.
I joined her to watch animation of Pangea breaking apart 200 million years ago, and then watched what happened to cause the 2011 Japan tsunami. This would have made science classes so much more fun when I was a kid. Thankfully she gets that chance.
By the end of the preview, Inara was brimming with more questions but fell asleep in her car seat before she could ask them all. A parenting success! At bedtime that night we looked at books about nature and the earth, and I promised her we would go back to experience more of the garden. I know even I will learn something.
Located on the southeastern shore of White Rock Lake (8525 Garland Road, Dallas, 75219), the Children’s Garden is a part of the Dallas Arboretum. Opening September 21st, 2013, it will be open daily from 9am to 5pm. Garden admission is $3/ticket for Dallas Arboretum members, and $15 for non-members.
About the author: Jayne Chobot Herring