I took the boys to the Morris Museum to see The Art of the Brick exhibit. Lego is somewhat of a religion at our house. My boys play often and intensely with Legos and there are tons of concepts my boys have learned simply from playing with them. So it was only natural for us to head out to see this exhibit.
First there was Rocks & Minerals, then Mammals and then Dinosaurs. Then there was Lego. I thought the exhibit was fantastic. The boys said it was fine. Really cool. Neat, now can we go see the automata? What?
We had recently seen the movie Hugo in 3D. It was a very good movie and included as an integral character, an automaton. The exhibit that the museum houses had mechanized characters of all types and automatic musical players. Both boys were completed entranced by the items on display. They looked at them from every angle trying to assess what made them work. They read the plaques and experimented with anything hands-on offered. They both remembered that one of the display items was very similar to a musical machine they had dropped coins in to use at Space Farms. The looked closely at every automaton offered in the collection, guessing what movements it might make.
I was surprised at how much time they gave to punching holes in ‘music’ cards to put through hand-cranked music boxes time and time again. They experimented with putting them in one at a time, two at a time, upside down and backwards. They peeked in the machine as they turned the handle.
I admit that I was shocked by the intensity of their interest. I was taken aback that their attention was not lavished on the Lego exhibit. It was a change of plans that I hadn’t counted on and a lesson for me. A lesson that things that they discover and investigate for themselves are superior to any agenda I had for them.
“When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself.” ~ Jean Piaget