Family Picks

Family Picks: Find a way to stretch your mind

CorrespondentMarch 6, 2014 

Brain balance ILLUS.jpg

The close of Brain Awareness Week in Durham sets the tone for several events oriented toward creativity, imagination and even a bit of critical thinking – as well as an adaptive sports clinic.


This weekend, get creative: The close of Brain Awareness Week in Durham sets the tone for a handful of events oriented toward creativity, imagination and even a bit of critical thinking. So whether you’re suspending disbelief to watch Japanese monsters topple skyscrapers, getting creative and adapting popular sports to make them playable by children with spinal injuries, or viewing Russian art and artifacts and learning about that ever-topical nation’s history, what better way to celebrate the mind than by encouraging your kids to use – and stretch – theirs?

• Duke’s Brain Awareness Week may come to a close Saturday, but it closes well – with hands-on demos. There will be dissected brains from various creatures to examine and compare and – as the museum site promises – an opportunity to touch an actual human brain. While that last part may not appeal to the squeamish, mind games designed specifically to fool the senses seem an appropriate centerpiece to this celebration. The hands-on demos are free with admission, which is $10 for kids 3 and older, $14 for adults, and $11 for seniors. The program starts at 10 a.m. More info at

• Use your brain in a different way Friday night, when Raleigh’s Museum of Natural Sciences presents the Gamera film “War of the Monsters.” In this case, it’s the imagination at work, as it takes serious suspension of disbelief to watch an enormous, tusked turtle that flies by battling other super-sized monsters. This and other Toho (the Japanese studio also responsible for the Godzilla series) films are just the kind of campy, shamelessly absurd monster movies so many adults loved as kids, so maybe this free showing is an opportunity to introduce a new generation. That said, the 7 p.m. start and scenes of destruction probably make this one inappropriate for anyone under elementary school age. Info at

Sports youth clinic

Raleigh’s Mid-Atlantic Power League (MAPL) chapter presents an adaptive sports youth clinic Saturday afternoon at the Raleigh Convention Center. At the clinic, the volleyball league presents kids with physical differences or major injuries with opportunities to play adaptive versions of football, soccer, and – of course – volleyball. While there are only 20 slots available, this event could mean the world to those kids. RSVP is required through The free clinic is 3:30-5 p.m.

Learn about Russia

Bigger kids – late elementary school and older – may appreciate Raleigh’s N.C. Museum of History’s Russian exhibits, which close this weekend. Particularly with Russia currently dominating the news, this is an excellent opportunity to introduce school-age kids to Russia’s history and encourage them to think of the news in context. This is a lesson that will give and give.

Admission is $7 per person, ages 18 and up; $5 for ages 7 to 17, 60 and up, active military personnel and college students with ID; $5 per person for groups of 10 or more with reservations; Free for ages 6 and under and for Museum of History Associates members.

More info at

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