- Vol. 06
- Chapter 12
FEEDING HUNGRY MINDS
The coach pulls in, and eighty-seven eager nine-year-olds pour into the street.
Head-counted, divided into the groups and assigned a responsible adult to keep a track of their whereabouts during the trip, they’re navigated through the busy Exhibition Road, around the corner, and into the group entrance of the most exciting places in London.
Once all the questions about an earlier lunch or a pre-lunch snack have been addressed, we begin our ascent to the sanctuary of knowledge. Plunged into the white noise of the children’s lively conversations, occasionally reaching the painful level of 150 decibels, we, unknowingly, become the subjects of the first experiment of the day.
At the top floor, we’re greeted by a theatrically enthusiastic girl with the signs of late-night partying on her face, eyes and in her hoarse voice, which she strains trying to bring the storm of overexcited children to order.
“And so, unlike in other museums,” she finishes, energetically clasping her hands in front of her chest, “where you’re not allowed to touch anything, or to step over the red line, in our Superlab you can do all these things! Touch, feel, experiment. In other words – have fun! Any questions?”
“When are we going to have lunch?” asks a shy voice from the back.
The girl smiles and steps away, letting the children into the lab. Knowledge-hungry, each group explodes in through the narrow entrance and, like particles suspended in gas, moves around the perimeter in a Brownian-like motion.
FEEDING HUNGRY MINDS
Some forty-five minutes later, having satisfied their first craving for learning, kids are sitting on the floor in a circle, tiredly looking at a young man dressed in a museum shirt, who, acting out the meaning of the word “explainer” printed on his back, is shouting into his headset, explaining the principles of electricity.
“Why is electricity important and what do we use it for? Apart from playing Fortnite and Minecraft, of course. Yes, young man.”
“To play Roblox!” comes the confident answer.
The logic is hard to argue and, by-and-by, the Explainer agrees that electricity is, indeed, essential for playing PS4 and charging iPhone and a tablet, and proceeds with a demonstration of a giant Tesla coil.
“Amazing, isn’t it? 1 million volts! Any questions?”
“Is it lunch time yet?” flies in from the different sides.
Leaving the Superlab, armed with question-sheet and pencils, grumpy and moaning hungry children scout the space section of the museum, until, finally, happy and content, for the first time since the beginning of the trip, they are seated at the terrace, munching their sandwiches, crisps and fruits, sharing jokes and memories of chemistry bar, a colour room and friction slides.
At 3:20pm, tired but happy, we return to school. I peel off the “helper” sticker from my shirt, sign my child off and together we walk home.
“Did you have fun today?”
“Yes!” he declares, happily hopping next to me.
“What was your favourite part?”