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On July 6th, my hubby, Andrew, and I drove over to Lafayette to visit the Lafayette Science Museum (formerly the Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium). As we entered the lobby of the museum, we were greeted by an Allosaurus attacking a Camptosaurus. Both of these dinosaurs lived during the Jurassic Period.
Allosaurus

We spent the next two hours walking through various exhibits. Our first stop was at the atrium on the first floor where we saw a display of fossil casts of an American mastodon (Mammut americanum), two saber-toothed cats (Smilodon), and a giant ground sloth (Megatherium americanum) from the Cenozoic Period. A fact about the American mastodon, that I found fascinating, was one was discovered near the Trappey food canning plant in Lafayette in 1970. It was called the Trappey mastodon.
IMG_1550 (1)

Barry-Virtual RealityOur next stop was the Virtual Reality Laboratory where all three of us took turns putting on special headgear to experience a science theme. There were several people at this exhibit, so we only participated in the space station. Afterwards, we ventured through the Energy Unearthed (The Science of Petroleum Exploration) exhibit where there was a collection of rocks and minerals. One of the minerals on display was garnet which is my birthstone. Before leaving the geology exhibit, we passed a fossil of Megatylopus (extinct giant camel). According to the museum, it was found in Oregon and acted similarly to a giraffe. We also walked by the Geology Lab which had a gigantic prehistoric whale hanging from the ceiling. Amazing!

The second floor of the museum is home to “The Crawl Space.” There were skeletons (bat, snake) and skulls from a variety of animals native to Louisiana: a racoon, a turtle, a fox, and a deer to name a few. There were also animals (grizzly bear, bobcat, beaver) on display that had been stuffed. To complete the collection, there was a skull of a juvenile, female Sei whale. She had beached on Marsh Island on the coast of Louisiana and was recovered by Louisiana’s Wildlife and Fisheries Department.  IMG_1554However, the neatest part of this section was the live insects, centipedes, and arachnids on display. My most favorite creepy-crawly was the tarantula, and my least favorite was the Madagascar hissing cockroach. And, just around the corner was Stegosaurus which happens to be my most favorite dinosaur ever. Stegosaurus is also from the Jurassic Period.

 

Before heading back downstairs to learn about Nanotechnology, we visited the Air & Spacecraft exhibit and the Meteorites exhibit. Interestingly, there have only been three meteorites found in Louisiana. Unfortunately, there was not a Planetarium Program for us to watch during our visit; however, the museum’s website does have a section under Planetarium called “Observe the Sky.” There are handouts, checklists, guides, and star maps available under this tab that will allow the astronomer in you to explore the night sky right from your backyard. Andrew-virtual realityOur last activity at the museum was another virtual reality encounter. It was about the evolution of the Internet. As you can see from the picture above, there was a television screen showing you what the person (Andrew) with the headgear was experiencing.

Andrew & PigUpon the recommendation of the receptionist at the museum, we decided to eat lunch at Dwyer’s Café which was within walking distance of the museum. Leaving the museum, we encountered a man walking his pig. Yes, a pig! And, it was adorable. After we all petted the pig, my hubby, Andrew, and I walked over to the restaurant. Our lunches were delicious and quite filling, so we walked around the downtown area for a little bit before heading back home.

Dear reader, we had an enjoyable day not only learning about different areas of science, but also exploring another part of our state. If you happen to be in the Lafayette area and have a couple of hours to kill, check out the Lafayette Science Museum. The admission is reasonable, it has a small store to purchase science related items, and you might just find yourself running into a man walking his pig. Happiness!

“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” ~ Edwin Hubble

 

 

 

 

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