Yep. You read that correctly. My kids dared me to do it and I ate a BUG! It really wasn’t even that gross. Okay, it was a little gross.
Let me give you some background.
We took a family outing to the Discovery Place in Uptown Charlotte. My husband and I firmly believe that children learn best through their experiences and The Discovery Place uses hands-on methods to teach kids about science and the earth around us. My children’s ages range from three to seven years old and all three of the kids were thoroughly entertained for hours. And the best part? They were having a blast learning.
We started in the little kid area. It is a perfect area to get the initial excitement out. There is only one way in and one way out so the kids are free to go from station to station safely. It is full of different sized metal pipes that the kids can clunk with sticks to create their own music (this can get loud if you are sensitive to noise). This area also has a vacuum pipe system set up for the kids to experiment. They can stick a ball or a handkerchief into the entrance and it sucks through the clear pipes and spits it out at the top. It also has valves to shut off the suction. They have a PVC pipe ball course that the kids can design by sticking the pipes on a wall and seeing if they can get the ball to the finish without falling. The best part (according to my kids) was the giant water table. After this, we wandered over to the Aquarium. My kids enjoyed the jellyfish, eels and other fish briefly before spotting the rain forest. Yes, a rain forest is INSIDE the museum in Uptown Charlotte. They do demonstrations of the animals and educate the children about its ecology. The room itself is humid to maintain the animal and plant life.
We walked upstairs and noticed Mr. Chris Locke was coordinating a scientific demonstration. My kids eagerly sat on the benches and watched in amazement as he demonstrated the flammable gasses and how some of them even turn colors while lit. (Total disclosure, my three year old was frightened at the end due to a loud pop of a balloon even though we knew it was going to happen.)
My children raced from exhibit to exhibit eagerly experimenting and problem solving. My oldest was able to figure out how and why things happened as my youngest was engaged in the fun. My son discovered a bed of nails and bravely laid on it. He was fascinated by the fact he could lay on the sharp side of the nails and wasn’t hurt.
Then it happened. On the way to watch the IMAX Space movie, Mr. Locke was at a booth in the hallway. He had bugs packaged in what was similar to a potato chip bag and was offering them as food. My son was intrigued, yet unsure. The bugs had been dehydrated and seasoned, however they still looked like bugs. My curious children, who collect bugs daily in jars, wanted to learn more about this delicacy. Mr. Locke explained that in other countries people eat bugs as a normal part of their diet. The bugs are protein packed and are considered nutritional, even though it is something that most American’s would scoff at. I noticed my daughters were a little grossed out, but my son stood there, smiling. Then Mr Locke offered it to me. I started to decline, but my son dared me. Then the girls chimed in. So in the spirit of new experience, I popped one in my mouth. It was dry and crunchy, but I smiled as I swallowed it. Everyone in my family, except the youngest, followed suit and tried a bug as well. I was proud of them for trying something new and expanding their horizon.
The Discovery Place is also linked with the Nature Museum at Freedom Park, which I feel better suits preschool age kids. They have animals, a butterfly house, a life size worm tunnel and an outdoor natural playground. My kids love the outdoor playground. It has real logs and pint sized tools for the kids to use to build whatever they desire.
Bug eating aside, my family and I loved the hands on experience we were exposed to while hanging out at these museums! I am so glad we are members and will be able to go multiple times throughout the year.
*These opinions are my own. I have received no compensation, memberships or any discounts to express them.