by Coach Bear
August 5, 2003
Located on the site of an old sugar mill, the museum covers about 10 acres. The property is owned by Universite de Los Andes, and is operated in conjunction with a government agency. University students work as guides and instructors within the museum.
Visitors were formed as a group at the front entrance of the museum by coordinators, then escorted to about two dozen major learning areas. At each stop we were introduced to a university student, who instructed the visitors in his/her area of studies and specialization. The main entrance building contained the pre-historic section. Here we saw graphic and interactive displays of the formation of the earth, the flora and fauna, (with particular emphasis on the geographical areas of Merida and Venezuela), displays explaining tectonics, jungles, and the rain forests (including man's encroachment and resultant destruction of the people, their culture, vegetation and animals). There was also a sales area with books, toys, games, shirts, hats, and other learning and gift items.
After leaving the entrance building, we walked through an outdoor garden area with life size replications of T Rex and other pre-historic animals, complete with a large colored wall mural depicting the major time frames of evolution from single cell to man. Continuing around part of a lagoon brought us to the main computer facilities. The entrance fee allowed us to use the pc's to further our knowledge of applications using a computer. Students would sell more time on the computer or the internet at a low cost. A 12-hour course in computer instruction could be purchased for about $30.
Next, we came to the largest building of the museum, originally, the main factory of the old sugar mill. Here, there were about a dozen areas of display and interactive learning in such scientific and engineering disciplines as astronomy, optics, robotics, human physiology, space, kinetics, laser light, inertia, and experimental demonstrations. All of these continued the theme of hands-on, interactive involvement. One area that my wife and I related to made use of Lego blocks to build photo voltaic, pneumatic, electrical, and solar robots. Some of the robots were computer controlled!
There was even an active mountain climbing area, where under the guidance of an instructor, we were outfitted with mountain climber's safety gear, given preliminary instructions, and attached to a safety line. Then we practiced climbing an artificial mountain.
The entire experience took us about four or five hours. We could have spent longer, but I wanted to get out and enjoy my last evening in town.
From journal Travels to the Other Mile-High City