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Dinosaurs invade Schenectady, will spend summer at miSci

Thursday, June 27, 2013
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Sachiko Martin, 6, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., plays in front of one of the "Dinosaurs!" stations at miSci this week.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Sachiko Martin, 6, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., plays in front of one of the "Dinosaurs!" stations at miSci this week.

— Two months ago, hundreds of butterflies were flying around at miSci. Now, a herd of dinosaurs has invaded the museum, from puppy-sized babies cracking out of their eggs to a fierce 12-foot-tall Albertosaurus that roars, stomps and bares its long, sharp teeth.

As far as anyone can tell, it’s the first time in human history that dinosaurs have ever set foot in Schenectady.

‘Dinosaurs!’

WHERE: miSci, 15 Nott Terrace Heights, Schenectady

WHEN: Opens Saturday and runs through Sept. 29. During the summer, museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

HOW MUCH: Adults, $9.50; children ages 3 to 12, $6.50; seniors, $8

MORE INFO: 382-7890, www.miSci.org

“This is part of the new miSci,” says Executive Director Mac Sudduth.

This summer, miSci, which was formerly known as the Schenectady Museum, is offering “Dinosaurs!,” and extended hours, so visitors can see them seven days a week.

The exhibit, which opens Saturday, features 18 computer-controlled, robotic creatures that make sounds and move their bodies. Designed by Kokoro Dinosaurs, a Los Angeles-based company that consults with paleontologists at North American museums and universities, the animatronic models have realistic, reptilian-like silicone skins.

There are stations where you can look at fossilized eggs and touch replicas of dinosaur teeth and skin. Children can uncover “bones and fossils” in a dino dig site and make dinosaur rubbing pictures with crayons. Children and adults can pose and take photos with a giant dinosaur head.

At miSci, seven different kinds of thunder lizards roam around the museum, instead of being grouped together.

“You kind of have to explore the whole place,” says Susan Whitaker, communications and marketing specialist.

In front of the planetarium, there’s a savage scene from the Cretaceous Period, as a group of small carnivores called Deinonychus attack a Tenontosaurus, a large herbivore with a long, powerful tail.

Turn a corner and you’ll see the growling Albertosaurus, a cousin of T-Rex, as it pursues the armored, spiky Euoplocephalus.

On the other side of the museum, a pair of thick-headed Pachycephalosaurus butt heads with each other, a behavior that may have been about male dominance during the breeding season.

Visitors who are curious about how the robotic dinosaurs operate can examine the metal skeleton of one of these beasts and press buttons to see how each part moves.

“That’s what’s nice about this exhibit, it ties into robotics,” says Chris Hunter, director of archives and collections.

MiSci has even added a few fossils from its own collection, like dinosaur footprints from Connecticut River Valley.

classes scheduled

The museum’s hands-on, weeklong science classes for children in July and August include three dinosaur-themed classes: “Discovering Dinosaurs” from July 8-12 for ages 5 to 7; “Digging for Dinosaurs” from July 15-19 for ages 8 to 11; and “Lego Robotics” from Aug. 19-23 for ages 8 to 12.

Classes are $200 per student. Spaces are limited but still available. Register by calling 382-7890, extension 224.

At 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, and Saturday, Aug. 17, children ages 3 to 5 are invited to “Little Wonders of Science: How Big Were the Dinosaurs.” The program is free with admission to the museum but space is limited. Call 382-7890, extension 224 to register.

 
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