Day trippin’ at museums: Gwacheon National Science Museum

by Kat Nickola
Stripes Korea

This weekend we rode the train up to a suburb of Seoul called Gwacheon where the National Science Museum is (it’s also where the Zoo is, but we’ve been there a ton).  It is a wonderful, huge, museum.  We didn’t have time to take in it all and we were there all afternoon!

Of course we started with lunch at the cafeteria and I had the best spaghetti in a bread bowl ever.  Zoe enjoys the Korean Pork cutlet and Avi is an Udon kinda guy.  Bryan opted for a burger which came in a wrapper containing the complete and accurate history of the burger.  I suppose you didn’t know that the Mongols actually invented it, did you?

From lunch we wandered into the Advanced Technology hall where we learned about submarines, space stations, and airplanes.  There was a cool area where Avi pretended to be an air traffic controller at Incheon while Zoe landed the airplane.  It was neat to watch as each of their screens corresponded with each other - his showing the plane on the radar and hers showing her landing.  Then, the big screens in the simulated tower showed the plane coming in to land.  Too cool....once we figured it out.  The learning curve was pretty sharp on that one.

Our next stop was the Natural History hall.  This is really why I planned to come.  We’ve been studying archaic history and so this is kind of a wrap up for us.  There were lots of neat videos and interactives showing the Earth’s formation, the solar system, and then onto the evolution of life through the different time periods.  Zoe and I spent a long time going through the time periods in order as a review - she really finds ancient life fascinating.  She has always liked dino’s, but has discovered new interests in the time before with ammonites and trilobites and also the post-dino period with giant sloths, American camels, and the mammoths (of course).  She especially loved the very realistic T-rex model that roars and comes-at-you, and the pteranadon mother that flys around the gallery.

Avi likes the dinos, but is more into the bones instead of realistic reproductions.  The Trex creeped him out.  Instead, his favorite part seemed to be the animals of nowadays - the tiger diorama, the sharks, the fish, the frogs.  He likes real life.  He also likes trains, so we headed outside to see some!  There are two big ones in the outside portion of the museum and Avi was excited that he was permitted to walk on the tracks.  He kept verifying that the train was not moving!

We took a break at the playground and went into the Insectarium where they both enjoyed the giant beetle larvae and beetles.  I was surprised the museum lets people pick them up - these are huge beetles with big pokey horns sticking out of their heads!  I guess they are docile, though.  We also had some fish eat our hangnails and wandered into the butterfly aviary.  Both kids LOOOVED this, and got super excited when they were able to hold a butterfly.

All in all a great day.  The train ride home, though, was hideously crowded.  I wasn’t thinking ‘rush hour’ on a Saturday, but sure enough it was cramped standing room only on our first train.  The second was alright; we got seats pretty quickly as we distanced ourselves from Seoul.

Prices were right!  Adults: W4,000  and kids (7-12) were W 2, it was an $8 day for us!

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