Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Notes From My Knapsack 03-06-05
By Jeff Gill

Give ‘Em The Works

So far this winter, the Little Guy and yours truly have made krispy squares, irish soda bread, fresh pasta, and some spectacular messes. Iron Chefs in training we ain’t, but we can demolish a Kitchen Stadium with the best of them.
Many more snow days and delays, and we’ll be making deoxyribonucleic paper chains, with an atcg cgat gatc hey ho!
As a stay-home dad, my Y chromosome seems to lack certain craft alleles, but moms who hold down the home fort daytimes tell me that this is not just a guy thing, after all. Too many days with the kids a) at home and b) not able to go outside can result in tensions, trauma, and too much snack-bribing (or is that a guy thing?).
Then we have Spring Break looming on the horizon. Some of you may be heading for Cabo San Lucas, but most of us are likely to be cruising around Cabo San Licking County for the week. What to do? Should we load up some neighbor kids in a fit of altruism and head for the screaming steelcage scrum called COSI and kill a day in Franklin County?
OK, I’m exaggerating (a bit), but while COSI costs about half a home equity loan (see first half of sentence) and leaves your ears ringing for the rest of the week (no exaggeration at all), what about “The Works”?
Y’know, “The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology” just south of Courthouse Square in Newark, at 55 S. First St. Haven’t been there yet? That’s true for far too many Licking County parents and kids. Think it’s expensive? Try $6 for adults, $4 for seniors (all you grandmas and grandpas watching kids the last week o’ March), and kids are $2.
“The Works” is a locally focused museum, but also a Smithsonian affiliate, which tells you something about the quality of what’s interpreted there about “History, Art & Technology.”
We went there for their free day on President’s Day Monday a few weeks ago. It was full of kids and families, but you could hear yourself think. There were lots of activities going on, but not of the “slap a few buttons and run to the next so-called exhibit” that so many sci/tech museums have. The glassblower was putting on a show that kept a certain six year old interested for a straight through twenty minutes (Aaron, would you come by our house and do that, just so my wife believes me?), but the glowing orange maw of the furnace helped, too.
I grew up on the famed Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and about the only thing I didn’t feel matched up at The Works is that they don’t have a captured German sub out back to tour (Howard, are you working on that one?), but they have a Print Shop, Wood Shop, and Art Studios that are all real working sites, not just displays.
Speaking of art, if you want to invest a few more dollars but get more time out of The Works experience for your elementary kids, they have some Spring Break “camps” coming up.
There’s a “Spring Break Art Camp”for students in grades 4-6 that runs from 9:30am-12:30pm, where you produce your own children’s picture book during a one-week camp.
From their web site “Each day you will create a page for your book using a different illustration technique including drawing, watercolor, printmaking and collage. You will also tour The Works Print Shop, create your book cover and bind your book. By the end of the week, you will have a complete, handmade book that you can read to your little siblings or friends!”
Or there’s also a “Spring Break Museum Camp” for students grades 3-6 from 1:00pm-4:00pm.
They plan to help your child “learn about Bridges and Structures ... Discover the History of Flight and experiment with your own glider ... Work with wood to build your own birdhouse” and of course “much more.”
Both Spring Break Camps are held Monday, March 28 through Friday, April 1.
Cost for each camp is $85 per student.
For more information, call The Works at (740) 349-9277.
If you just want to pick your time and length of visit, they are open any week Tuesday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm; or on Saturday from 11 am to 4pm.
The admission is cheap at twice the price, and a family membership is just $50 for the year. Marcia Downs and the staff have put a great facility together for Licking County, so come see and spend some time there this Spring Break. You’ll see us there for sure.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply pastor around central Ohio; he and his wife have worked on designing a number of museums and exhibits, and they know good stuff when they see it! If you have news of another visitor experience in central Ohio you’d like to share, e-mail

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