Through the generosity of a dear friend, my grandson and I spend part of most Fridays enjoying Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. Every minute is a new adventure and Sam considers Science City his favorite Friday place.
Volunteers staff much of the public activities, always pleasant and helpful, rarely reacting to the lesser side of human behavior. There are definitely times when I wish it were my place to publicly applaud the volunteers and berate the adults who should be supervising children.
Because this blog may read like a rant, I want to be clear. Most of my working life took place in elementary schools, teaching, taking field trips and working with all aspects of educating children. I understand the rewards, the joys and the challenges.
Science City is a field trip, an educational experience designed to give students hands-on opportunities to test scientific principles. It is a break from the classroom . Granted some exhibits are inoperable but that is not the fault of Science City. It would take thousands of dollars to constantly repair damage caused by careless and intentional mistreatment.
It amazes me that some student groups wear identifying tee shirts, especially when running, without any visible supervision, causing near and real collisions with others trying to enjoy Science City. Often adults wearing the same shirts are talking with one another, oblivious to what the students are doing. Exhibits get mistreated so fellow students can laugh at the antics. Younger kids are often pushed aside.
There is a room designed for the youngest visitors and the equipment is often misused. Thomas the Train layout is popular and kids wait for a turn at that table. On two occasions, I have asked a child to return train cars being taken out the door. Both times, the adult tried to wither me with a look while tossing the train piece back into the room.
A defense might be offered by saying that teachers cannot find enough parents to volunteer for field trips, that it is impossible for one or two teachers to adequately supervise a class size group of kids, that keeping the group together would cause long waits to participate in some activities.
All probably true, but treating Science City like a free range play ground is not the educational experience intended. If adults consider running, scuffles, and general horse-play as acceptable behavior then a public park might be a better Friday break from the classroom.