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Voyage to the Enterprise

Watching Star Trek can make your kids smarter.

You think I am just looking for justification for letting the boys bond with Gene Roddenberry for hours?  Okay, maybe I am. But this time, I’ve got some serious scientists backing me up.

The Aerospace Museum of California, located in Rancho Cordova, is featuring a Star Trek exhibit through January 5th, 2011. Here you will find the largest collection of authentic Star Trek artifacts and information ever put on public display. There are actual sets, costumes, and props from all five Star Trek television series and eleven Star Trek feature films. That’s great news for us grown-ups, we don’t have to fly all the way to Vegas to get our Trekkie fix. But how do we indoctrinate the next generation?

Here’s what I find truly cool. Before your visit you can download an activity guide that has questions, facts, and puzzles based on the information at the exhibit. These pages offer an opportunity to learn vocabulary words, use math to problem solve, and get some perspective of historical space events as they relate to the release of each of the Star Trek movies. Well you’ve got to make history relatable, right?

If you want to go more in depth, you can gather up some friends and book a field trip. Or, from home, just download the teacher guides appropriate to your child’s grade level. These lessons are designed to incorporate civics, science, history, geography, astronomy, and even a bit of cooking. Online lesson guides are geared toward grades 4 through 12.

Tickets to the Star Trek exhibit also get you into the Aerospace Museum, which has plenty to do for kids all on its own. Besides checking out airplanes, you can step into a flight simulator (well worth the extra cost in my opinion) or try to fly a plane via computer in the upstairs learning center. Docents are stationed at in the learning center to help you use the controls.

This Saturday, October 16th, is open cockpit day at the museum, when many of the airplanes are opened for for public viewing. (On other days only two or three airplanes are accessible.) Saturday, October 23rd  is a Star Trek costume contest. Prizes are given in the categories of 11yrs. and under, 12 – 17 yrs., and adult. Tickets that day are only $10.00 (normally $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and kids ages 13 – 17, $11 for ages 6-12, 5 yrs. and under are free).

For the  younger kids, plan extra time to visit the space playground next-door. With a rocket-shaped climbing structure, this playground makes a great snack stop and one more chance for the kids to imagine themselves blasting off into the next frontier.

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