Monday, March 31, 2008

Field Trip: The Movie Theater

Last week, we attended the eagerly anticipated tour of Chateau Theatres, one of three cinemas in Rochester. I arranged a tour with the manager of the theater for the kids, moms, and one lucky grandpa to go behind the scenes and learn how those movies appear on the big screen. Tickets were $6 a person, and we received a special group rate for snacks: $2.14 for a small popcorn and small soda. After the tour, we attended a showing of Dr. Suess' Horton Hears a Who. The moms laughed so hard at the part early in the movie when the crabby kangaroo mother said that her child is "pouch-schooled."

Caryn shows us how she loads the film onto the reel. She has been working at movie theaters for ten years, and she is the expert at Chateau Theatres. Most movies are loaded in three sections, including the previews at the beginning of the show. Studios recommend their own movies for showing as previews, but the choice of which previews to show on which screens is ultimately the decision of the theater manager and her team.
The shelves are full of previews and movie trailers. When the movies are done showing at the theater, they discard boxes full of previews. The kids were able to choose discarded previews to take home for craft projects and other fun. They were so excited! Max was able to snag a copy of the preview for Horton Hears a Who. Each child also received a bookmark-sized strip from the movie Happy Feet.
Stacy Allison, the manager at both Cinemagic-owned theaters in Rochester, shows us the 3000-watt light bulb that lights up each big screen. The light bulb is encased in a special housing within the projector, and whenever that little door is opened, the light bulb automatically shuts off because it is so bright and dangerous. It is filled with xenon gas, like today's fancy headlights on automobiles.

Above are the two formats for movies: widescreen and fullscreen.

Below, Caryn loads the reel into the projector.

The movies are shipped in these special containers.

The area where the movies are projected onto the big screens. Each projector may cost around $100,000. Many theaters will have to spend one million dollars or more to upgrade to digital equipment in the coming years.
Time for the movie! Maxwell and Mitchell gave it a two-thumbs-up rating.

Homeschool Field Trip: Creatures of the Deep

On March 18, we visited a special, month-long exhibit at Quarry Hill with members of our homeschool field trip club. Quarry Hill is a nature center and the exhibit was called Creatures of the Deep. The classroom at the nature center was filled with several life-size replicas of prehistoric sea creatures.

This hand was huge!

Max and Mitchell stand under the head of the forty foot-long creature of the deep!
This map depicts where a huge river likely flowed thousands of year ago.

Max takes a closer look.

Mitchell stands next to true-to-life displays of several kinds of turtles.
Our friend Little Max poses inside the head of the Mososaur.

Max and Mitchell dig for fossils.

Mitchell and Max create crayon rubbings of dinosaurs and prehistoric sea creatures. Mitchell, of course, used yellow, and Max used his socially acceptable favorite color of red. Who decided that pink is for girls, anyway?
Max inspects a fossil replica.
Mitchell and Little Max enjoy a little "down time" after all that learning as they run circles around a cone.

After we toured the exhibit and absorbed as much information as we could, some of our friends joined us on a hike through the trails. We walked around the pond, up a steep hill, past the remnants of the limestone quarry, and came to the end of the trail at the edge of a tall cliff overlooking the city of Rochester. Below, Big Max and Little Max try to play in the water before their moms shoo them away.
The homeschoolers eagerly head for the hills!

At the top of the steep, snow-covered hill, we could see the ruins of the old limestone quarries.

Mom Becky helps Mitchell's friend Mags up the last few steps of the slippery hill.
Max stands at the top of the hill, with the quarry walls in the background.

Max finds a rock for his collection, but he wants me to put it in my pocket. I told him he has to be in charge of carrying it back down the trail.

We reached the other side of the park. A huge stand of tall pine trees surrounds the open spaces of the park. At the base of the hillside are many unmarked graves from the state mental hospital from years ago, and some grave sites that have recently been marked with the correct names and dates to honor the deceased who are buried there.
Max and Mags play a game of tag with Nic and Fiona.
Mitchell, walking at a slower pace than the rest of us, discovered a treasure hidden inside the hollow of a tall tree. We left the nut inside the tree for whichever hard-working creature put it there.

By the end of our hike, Mitchell's and Max's feet were sore from all of that walking in their rain boots, which were not very warm or cushion-y!