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Peek-a-Boo Dinosaurs and Funny Bicycles

Alas, science museums in Korea have proven disappointingly bland (in a word, meh), although perhaps I had such high expectations. Designing for interactivity in a conservative Confucian society poses some challenges, perhaps one that can be easily seen by someone from the outside. But there are pockets of joyful wonder in the sometimes poorly lit rooms that reeked of overuse of audio-visual media and text. My favorite parts of the Seoul National Science Museum are in the second floor. Specifically, rainbow-colored hands wave hello at the wax station where you can cast your own hands for 8,000 won:

Rainbow hands

Rainbow hands

It’s awesome to see Marie Curie flashed on a screen. After being here for just a few weeks, seeing visible recognition for any female with strong, intellectual, and independent roles in such a rigid Confucian system as Korea’s make me do cartwheels inside (and sometimes, outside).

Marie Curie!

Marie Curie!

In the middle of a set of dinosaur eggs, one in the middle turned out to be mechanical and opened up to reveal a yawning dinosaur:

Hello, world.

Hello, world.

And in the enormous Gwacheon National Science Museum, my favorite parts were on the outside, such as the Funny Bicycling Center:

funny bikes

funny bikes

There are bikes with odd parts, bikes built for two, and bikes you can ride sideways:

riding a bike sideways

riding a bike sideways

This would have been a perfect bike in graduate school.

This would have been a perfect bike in graduate school.

The Narae-Seobuk (“the bell of hope”) is a traditional Korean bell made out of 3,080 speakers—quite a beautiful symbol of art, science, and tradition:

Narae-Seobuk. The Bell of Hope.

Narae-Seobuk. The Bell of Hope.

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