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New Planet Shark children’s area at Museum of Nature & Science

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With schools out for winter break and holiday guests in town, the Museum of Nature & Science has plenty in store for stir-crazy kids and fun-seekers of all ages! From live sharks and twice-weekly feedings, to a new children’s area within the 12,000-square-foot Planet Shark: Predator or Prey exhibition, to daily electrifying live shows, Planetarium shows and IMAX® films, the challenge will be trying to see everything in one day. Not to worry: From December 26 – 30, the Museum will stay open until 6 p.m. giving visitors an extra hour to explore and discover.

Recently, the Museum added live sharks and other family-fun features to enhance and expand the exciting shark experience for all ages. Temporarily moved from the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park, the sharks are housed in a 515-gallon two-tank aquarium display in the MNS Science Building lobby and will be on view for the duration of the Planet Shark: Predator or Prey exhibition (September 16, 2012). Every Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m., the sharks are fed. An aquarist is on hand to answer questions before and after the feedings and talk about the sharks, making it a popular interactive activity. On Saturdays at 1 p.m., visitors can learn about the interesting anatomy of sharks while witnessing a shark dissection.

A child-friendly area has been added within the Planet Shark: Predator or Prey exhibition where kids can draw, do puzzles and enjoy various shark- and underwater- themed activities. Also new, beginning December 26, family-friendly exhibit tours will take place at 10 and 11 a.m., and 2 and 4 p.m. from December 26 – 30; 10 and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on December 31; 2 and 4 p.m. on January 1; and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on January 2.

Through December 31, daily live shows including Electric Theater and Fire & Ice are held in the auditorium at the Science Building, plus the Planetariumis open daily from December 17 – January 2. IMAX® films includeSHARKS, Sea Rex: Journey to a Prehistoric World and, returning January 2, Bugs! A Rainforest Adventure.

As always, exciting exploration awaits everyday within the three buildings that make up the Museum of Nature & Science. The Science Building, home to the family favorite Children’s Museum on the lower floor, offers fun for young children up to seven years old and includes live animals such as turtles, snakes and spiders. Here, imaginative budding scientists can find engaging ways to stimulate their curiosity through a variety of hands-on, sensory experiences that foster a thirst for discovery and knowledge. Within the five-gallery “Come and Explore Your World” area kids can become a farmer, an actor or actress, an EMT or an engineer through dressing up in costume, all while learning about communities, art, culture and more, in a safe educational environment.

Other highlights inside the Science Building include Texas Dinosaurs - Fossil Dig (a.k.a. the "Dino Dig") where children can explore, dig and unearth real fossil casts found in the Big Bend; Your Incredible Body featuring 24 interactive stations for children to learn how much skin weighs, explore the microscopic world of germs and journey through the body’s maze of complex systems; and Putting DNA to Work, an engaging area featuring interactive multimedia activities where visitors can learn how inherited and infectious diseases are identified, explore the various uses of DNA analysis in criminal forensics and crop improvement and unlock the secrets hidden in genes.

Next door in the three-level Nature Building, the fun-while-learning continues. Four distinct wildlife diorama halls showcase Texas’ diverse ecosystems with coyotes, bison, alligators, amazing minerals and one of the largest scientific collections of birds in Texas. Upstairs, the beloved children’s TV show comes to life in the exciting, interactive Bob the Builder: Project – Build It! exhibit for preschoolers and young children. (Note: Bob the Builder closes January 8.) The Trinity, a collection of winning photographs from the Trinity River Corridor Project photography contest is on display from December 19 through May 2012 and is includedwiththecost of general admission. Outside, visitors can take a stroll around the LeonhardtLagoon Nature Walk and encounter all sorts of swimming creatures and water-bearing wildlife.

Holiday hours, admission and general information

Regular hours of operation are from 10a.m. – 5p.m. Monday – Saturday and from noon – 5 p.m. Sundays. Please note special holiday hours: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.December 24 (Christmas Eve) and December 31 (New Year’s Eve); closed December 25 (Christmas). Extended hours are from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. December 26 – 30 and from noon – 6 p.m. January 1 (New Year’s Day)

Regular general exhibit admission is $10 for adults 18-61; $9 for seniors 62+ and students 12-17; $7 for children 2-11; children under 2 are free. MNS members of all ages are admitted for free.

Planet Shark: Predator or Prey requires a surcharge in addition to the purchase of MNS general admission for a total admission cost of $18 for adults (18-61); $16 for seniors (62+) and students (12-17); $13 for children (2-11); and $5 for MNS members of all ages. Children under 2 are free.

IMAX® shows require additional tickets: $7.50 for adults 18-61 (member adults $6); $6.50 for seniors 62+, students 12-17 and children 2-11 (member seniors, students and children $5). Children under 2 are free.

The Twin Fin Package, which includes admission to Planet Shark: Predator or Preyand any IMAX® film, is $24 for adults 18-61, $22 for students (12-17) and seniors (62+); $18 for children 2-11; and $10 for MNS members of all ages.

Planetarium tickets are $3.50 for non-member adults, students, seniors and children 2-11; and $2.50 for member adults, students, seniors and children ages 2-11. Children under 2 are free.

Tickets for the Museum, IMAX® and Planetarium shows, and all special exhibits are available online.

The Museum of Nature & Science campus is located in Fair Park. The Science Building is at 1318 S. 2nd Ave., the Nature Building is at 3535 Grand Ave., and the Planetarium is at 1620 First Ave., Dallas, TX, 75210. Parking is available via Gate 5 or Gate 6 and is always free, except during State Fair. MNS can also be accessed via the DART Green Line with stops at MLK, Jr. and Fair Park stations.

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