Looking for something to do with the kids on a hot day? I've got just the thing and it's directly related to understanding why there have been more hot days like this one.
Yesterday I toured the brand new Climate Education space at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center. It rivals the Madison Children's Museum for engaging entertainment combined with serious education.
The center uses lots of interactive technology and touchscreens everywhere to help kids understand what global climate change is about, what causes it, what it means for people, plants and animals, and how we might stem the tide.
The highlight is the "Science on a Sphere" exhibit. Imagine yourself in a circular darkened room with a six-foot sphere suspended from the ceiling. All kinds of data can be projected on the sphere, including real time satellite imagery of the entire globe, other planets in our solar system, and many more kinds of data, such as historic events like the giant Christmas tsunami that devastated a good part of the world a few years back.
There's no experience like this anywhere in Wisconsin. And it's not just for kids. I learned a lot in the brief half hour I was there. This exhibit takes an incredibly complex set of relationships and, far from dumbing them down, makes the science come alive. People of any age leave understanding global climate change much better than they thought they did when they entered.
For those of you who might still be deniers on the topic, the exhibit goes easy on the politics and preaching. It takes a "just the facts" science-based approach that no one should find offensive.
That's just what's indoors. The center's outdoor preserve contains acres of prairie, wetlands and forest habitats, and guided tours are available. When I was there, dozens of kids were finding their hats and being dipped in sunscreen in preparation for an outdoor excursion with a naturalist.
The Aldo Leopold Nature Center is located at 330 Femrite Drive, less than a mile from the Monona Drive exit of the Beltline. The exhibits are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.