Discovery Center preparing for giant insect invasion

Discovery Center preparing for giant insect invasion


Larger-than-life creatures to infest nationally-acclaimed children’s museum from September to January; Robot insects and hands-on exhibits

Stepping on ants and swatting at flies will transform into gingerly tiptoeing across the yard when Discovery Center Museum presents Backyard Monsters: The World of Insects from Sept. 28- Jan. 20, 2003. Backyard Monsters features giant robotic insects—many over 200 times their normal size—along with interactive learning displays and one of the world’s largest private specimen collections.

Sponsored by AMCORE Bank, WREX-13, RadioWorks, and the Rockford Register Star, with additional support from McDonald’s and Marshall Field’s Project Imagine, exploration of Backyard Monsters: The World of Insects will be available through a separate admission fee: $4 public adults, $3 public children and $2 Discovery Center Museum members. Those wishing to explore both the world of Backyard Monsters and Discovery Center will be able to purchase a special reduced, combined public admission of $5 per person. Special discounted admission rates will be offered to groups of 10 or more with advanced reservations.

The huge, moving creatures that make up Backyard Monsters include an 11-foot-tall Praying Mantis, a pair of Carpenter Ants, an Emperor Scorpion, and a static dragonfly with a 10-foot gossamer wingspan. Most of the figures contain a system of animated robotics—“animatronics”—that enables the insect to present up to 20 movements including moving heads, curling tails and snapping claws.

Numerous hands-on, educational-play stations are also included within the Backyard Monsters exhibition. “Small Talk” cleverly demonstrates to visitors what some bugs sound like by using everyday household items. Turning cranks and pulling ropes will allow visitors a chance to understand the workings of wings with “First Flyers”; and kids will be amazed by “Robo-Bugs”, six-legged robotic creatures that visitors can control.

Discovery Center, one of the Nation’s 10 Best Children’s Museums as cited by Child magazine, is located inside Riverfront Museum Park at 711 N. Main St., Rockford. General admission to the Museum is $4 adults, $3 children (ages 2 to 17) and free to children under 2 years and Museum members. School year hours of operation are: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m., Sunday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays that are Rockford Public School holidays. For the general public, additional information regarding Discovery Center can be found on-line at or by calling (815) 963-6769 between 8:30 am. and 5 p.m., weekdays.

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