No parent would like to see their child’s head in the jaws of a dinosaur — unless, of course, it’s to take a fun photo with a T-Rex at the new dinosaur exhibit at the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City.
"Age of the Dinosaurs" has brought lifelike animatronic dinosaurs roaming into the museum that move their heads, open their mouths and roar. Kids will see a Tyrannosaurus rex, a Protoceratops, an Apatosaurus, a Stegosaurus, a Chasmosaurus.
"He loved, loved, loved it," says Kristy Imperiale, 39, a stay-at-home mother from Port Washington, of her son, Connor, 4. "He was touching the tongue; he was touching the teeth. My husband lifted him up to touch the scales."
The museum expects the exhibit to be especially appealing to children ages 4 to 6, an age when dinosaurs are "wildly popular," says Maureen Mangan, director of communications. "There’s a period of time when kids are just fascinated by dinosaurs. They will correct you if you identify the wrong dinosaur or if you say the name wrong. It lets them really become the expert in the family."
Dinosaurs allow kids to start to understand the concepts of "long ago," and gets them thinking about shapes and sizes, says Aimee Terzulli, director of education. "It’s the first step when kids start to develop interests and hobbies, and it’s an early STEM pipeline activity," she says.
Here are six ways families can learn more about the prehistoric animals — the exhibit will be at the museum until May 29 and is included with museum admission:
See a flying creature: A Pteranodon with a 24-foot wingspan and orange beak meets visitors in the exhibit area as it hangs from the ceiling. "It’s one of the soaring reptiles," Mangan says.
Visit creatures in their natural habitats: Some displays feature parents with baby dinosaurs and dinosaur eggs, and many have scenic backgrounds. For instance, an herbivore will be set with ground covering it would eat. "It’s an immersive experience," Mangan says.
Learn how animatronics work. Visitors will see the interior of an enormous animatronic dinosaur and use a remote control to see how it moves a T-Rex head and neck. Julie An, 37, an administrative assistant from Little Neck, says that realism was something her daughter, Suah Bae, 5, loved. "She only learned about dinosaurs through a book. It was so exciting," An says. Her son, Eugene Bae, 3, was less enthusiastic, she says. "My son was a little scared. It looks real, they move even."
Discover fossils, make rubbings and build a dinosaur. Hands-on activities let kids dig in the sand to uncover bones and visit a rubbing table to make a crayon rubbing to take home. They can also attach a head and tails to a dinosaur torso to create a creature. The hands-on activities were a highlight for Nora Bollus, 2, and her brother, Joseph, 5, who are from Massachusetts and were on Long Island to visit their maternal grandparents, says their mom, Kristin, 35. "They had really cool projects," Bollus says.
Listen to dinosaur sounds. Kids can hear how scientists think dinosaurs roared or made other sounds based on their necks and heads.
Engage in a workshop. Check the museum website for dates and times to create a dinosaur with a movable jaw (Dining Dinos), make a light-up jar with a prehistoric landscape and dinosaurs (Jurassic Jars), mold a clay fossil impression (Fascinating Fossil) or design a dinosaur hand puppet (Over the Top Triceratops Puppet).
And of course, families can take fun photos; they are encouraged, Mangan says. In addition to the ability to pose in the jaw of a T-Rex, children can take a photo riding atop a triceratops. "She loved the dinosaur she could sit on," says Greg Michels, 41, a retired police officer from East Meadow, of his daughter, Gianna, 7.
The exhibit is included with museum admission of $15 per adult or child older than 1, $14 for senior citizens. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends. The museum is at 11 Davis Ave., Garden City. 516-224-5800, licm.org. All visitors must wear masks.
You may have done jigsaw puzzles or crosswords during the pandemic — but Adelphi University paleontologist Mike D’Emic built a dinosaur that is now in the lobby of the Long Island Children’s Museum.
D’Emic was gifted replicas of the fossil bones of a juvenile apatosaurus by the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, where he is a research associate, several years ago, but it wasn’t until his wife, Claire, who is the Long Island Children’s Museum STEM initiatives program director, told him about the museum’s upcoming dinosaur exhibit that D’Emic sprang into action. “I thought it would be a great fit,” he says.
The bones had been sitting in his lab at Adelphi in a box “waiting for an occasion like this,” he says. “It came in hundreds of pieces. It’s like a big 3D jigsaw puzzle putting it together." The full assembly of the 3-foot-tall, 10 foot-long apatosaurus took D'Emic and Adelphi graduate student Stephen Finch about three weeks, D'Emic says.
The apatosaurus will be stationed in the lobby of the museum during the exhibit’s run. D’Emic will also be leading a session at the museum about dinosaurs from noon to 2 p.m., on Feb. 26.