Since we have a membership at The Muse in Knoxville and we heard so many good things about the children’s museum in Chattanooga, we decided we should put our membership to work for us. The Muse and Chattanooga’s Creative Discovery Museum are part of the ASTC network – American Science and Technology Centers. If you get a membership with one, you get free admission elsewhere.
For your information, there are two different networks of museums for children (besides zoos and aquariums): ASTC and ACM. The ASTC network is different from the ACM network. ACM is the Association of Children’s Museums. ASTC is the Association of Science and Technology Centers.
Your membership card should have the logo of the network of which you are a member. Chattanooga’s Discovery Museum is a member of both ASTC and ACM. My membership at The Muse is a Family Membership ($100 for the first year and $75 in subsequent years). A Family Membership will grant you free access into ASTC museums, but it will not get you into the ACM network.
If you want to get into an ACM museum with your Muse Membership, you must have the Passport Membership ($125 for the first year and $100 for the following years). Even so, that Passport level will give you a 50% discount, not a free ride. It’s not over yet. We are also told we must call each children’s museum up individually before heading over there, to make sure the reciprocity will be honored.
Too many lines in this fine print, wouldn’t you say? I decided I did not want the Passport Level after all. I am happy to visit ASTC museums for now and call it a day.
So, in Chattanooga, we paid full price (minus a $1 off per ticket in website coupons they threw in for us). We spent about five hours in there, including lunch. They do have some healthy options for lunch and we decided we did not want to ride and park again somewhere else just to eat.
The kids got to play and learn at the same time. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. I say that they also learned a few things because free play teaches children a lot of problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, vocabulary, plus concepts. But there was a so-called Science Show we watched – really a science class disguised as entertainment. Personally, I wince every time this approach is taken because I really dislike the idea of “learning should be fun.” In my book, learning is fun. Many times. But not always. Life is not always fun. But we keep at it. The same goes for learning. This whole idea of entertaining the kids so they don’t even know they are learning gives me shivers. Moving right along…
Nicholas, the teacher, behaved a bit like a TV show host and asked for audience participation (clapping, repeating certain words, you know the drill). When he needed volunteers, my children volunteered. In fact, my son was the first volunteer picked (maybe because he is quick to raise his hand AND he was sitting on the front row). Later on, my daughter volunteered and, last but not least, my husband volunteered when Nicholas asked for an adult. Alas, I have no picture of my husband in the cage which was being shocked with thousands of volts. My cell’s battery was low and I had turned it off. And my husband walked away with his cell in his pocket. Maybe next time.