After a two-year hiatus, Lego® KidsFest is returning to Raleigh, and will fill the convention center with joy, laugther and millions of lego bricks. This touring show has visited Raleigh once before, in 2012 when my son was still firmly in the Duplo age (see image below).
He is now approaching Small Lego age, and it is time to return to this cool event. No doubt about it; in the end this is a Lego promotion, but it is a lot of fun to attend, and while there are Lego sets for sale, there is no pressure to actually do so. (Your kids may have a different opinion, though.)
From memory, this is what stood out: First, the large Creation Nation is a giant outline of the US, which will be filled by small Lego creations from attendees. (I had fun with that myself while my little helper took a nap. Won’t happen this time.) The monochromatic builds (entire areas with just white or orange or whatever Legos) were also pretty cool. Then there are full-size models of Spiderman and the likes. A Lego-Pinewood Derby. And also various areas for the different Lego product lines like Lego City or Lego Technic.
Note that when you buy tickets, it is for a specific half-day: Saturday/Sunday, morning or evening. After the morning session, the exhibition closes briefly to be ready for the afternoon crowd again. All sessions are the same, and they usually do sell out.
Details and tickets (not cheap at $20/child and $22/adult) are available on the Raleigh KidsFest website. Note: This is still 10 weeks away, but it will sell out, at least some of the sessions.Creation Nation: Florida seen in a Lego world. (Photo Courtesy of LEGO® KidsFest.)
Another annual event that we’re looking forward to each fall is BugFest. It is organized by the Science Museum, and it clearly deserves being called a “Fest”. Live Bugs, Dead Bugs, Small Bugs, Big Bugs, Bug Movies, Bug Crafts, Bug Races, Bug Art: It is BugFest. To point out my personal favorites:
The Alberti Flea Circus: We’ve all heard of a Flea Circus, but have you actually seen one? Performing at BugFest throughout the day.
Cafe Insecta: They serve bugs. No kidding! Fried Grasshoppers, anyone?
Horseshoe Crabs: If you’ve been to an aquarium around here, you’ll know that they are among the most fascinating sea creatures.
Cyborg Insects: NC State’s iBionics Lab connects microcontrollers to cockroach brains, and makes them run left or right.
Stump the Experts: Bring any bug to the examination table and the experts will identify it. (We did that last year, and brought what turned out to be a Phidippus Audax we found earlier that day.)
Visit the BugFest website for detailed directions, or just head out to the museum and the Plaza and enjoy what you find.
Phidippus audax (yes, we singlehandedly caught one last year)
Saturday is Engineers Day at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham. Some of the programs are geared towards kids 10+, but the many engineering-related exhibits are suitable for all ages. Plus, if interests for engineering should wane, there is always plenty more to explore at this marvelous museum, like the butterfly house or the cool outdoors playground.
“To make” is probably one of the broadest terms in language, but Maker Faire does it all justice. Make your own combat robot? Crochet your own superhero mask? Build your own bass guitar? Fly to Outer Space, launching from the NC Fairgrounds? All that and more can be seen at the Maker Faire. MakerFaire is a mashup of robotics, hacking, crafts, knitters, steampunks and Stormtroopers. And my kids. you wonder? There are many kids in attendance, and a good number of exhibits are suitable for little ones. They may not yet appreciate the intricacies of a steampunk trebuchet, but they will like the Chaos machine (a marble run that is larger than their room), the combat robots, and much more.