Art & Museums: Wild rides


Time Out New York Kids

Two new exhibits tap into the joys of fun parks.

Before you empty your wallet at Playland or Six Flags this summer, teach your kids a thing or two about their stomach-churning amusements. Two local museums are featuring themepark exhibits, and both deliver head-spinning thrills along with subtly taught science lessons.

The straightfowardly named “Amusement Park Science” can be found in the lower level of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. A cartoon newt (chosen in honor of Sir Isaac Newton) greets visitors and appears on signs at 12 activity stations; each details how Newton’s Laws of Motion make a ride zoom, spin or loop-de-loop. Some attractions here are interactive: At Bump-O-Ramma, kids smash together rubber-rimmed disks (a la bumper cars) to foster understanding that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The Amazing Momentum Machine, a circular spinning platform that youngsters can jump aboard, reveals the behavior of rotating objects.

Coincidentally, the New York Hall of Science has a similar exhibit: “Rocket Park Mini Golf” is a real outdoor course designed to illustrate how the laws of motion that guide spaceships are the same ones that cause golf balls to soar. Located next to two historic NASA rockets, the nine holes are laid out to represent the trajectory of a complete space flight.

To “blast off,” children must swing with enough force to keep the ball from rolling back to them; similarly, a spaceship must reach a velocity high enough to escape Earth’s gravitational pull. The final hole, of “Splash Down,” requires tykes to putt toward a target on a rotating model Earth. It’s not the easiest course, so don’t be surprised if your children are eager to improve their scores–and tee off through the galaxy all over again.

Amusement Park Science” is on view through Sept 10. “Rocket Park Mini Golf” opens June 20. For venue information, see Museums & Sights.

By Leanne French