A recent visit to the Great Lakes Science Center with my 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons proved to be even more of a learning experience than it usually is. After burning off some energy at the TapeScape exhibit and making a quick pass through the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, it was time to grab our seats for a showing of “Watermelon Magic,” the latest film added to the lineup at the Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater.
The film features a young girl named Sylvie, who discovers the magic inherent in growing her own watermelons from seeds all the way to the market stand.
Our older son can sit through a full-length movie (especially if there’s popcorn involved), but we have yet to take our 2-year-old to a movie theater given his attention span and inability to whisper. I decided to go for it since “Watermelon Magic” has a runtime of only 30 minutes, making it perfect for young kids.
The movie also is featured in a slightly smaller than full-dome screen ratio, so I knew it wouldn’t seem overwhelming to either child, as this was our 4-year-old’s first DOME experience.
Both boys loved the movie and didn’t make a sound, as their eyes were glued to the screen the entire time. They watched, mesmerized, as Sylvie nurtured her crops — planting them, watering them, and even protecting them from accidental damage by her younger brother.
The movie chronicles a season on a family farm — a great lesson for children about where their food comes from and how much effort is required to produce it — and comes to life using special time-lapse sequences created from more than 200,000 still images animated to motion. The technique is perfect for showing the growth of the plants in a fast-forward style.
The film was written, directed and produced by Richard Power Hoffmann, and young Sylvie in the film is his actual daughter. The family in the film lives in Media, Pa., and participates in a community garden of shared pick-up.
After the movie, we spent more time at GLSC exploring all the hands-on exhibits, but I knew the movie made an impression on my 4-year-old when he picked the seeds out of his watermelon that night at dinner and asked if we could plant them. I think we’re going to need a bigger backyard.