Monday, September 22, 2008

School is Back in Session for the Las Vegas Meeks Academy for One

This year, my son and I are doing homeschool again. Friday is field trip day at the Meeks Academy for One (MAFO)—with only one student, we can go on a field trip every week.

So far this year, we’ve been to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, the Lied Children’s Discovery Museum, and the Old Mormon Fort. These photos were taken at the Old Mormon Fort.

We’ve learned about flash floods in the desert at the wonderful display at the Springs Preserve (it comes complete with rushing water). The Springs’ high-tech displays are well worth the price of admission. I suggest going early in the day at this time of year so you can take full advantage of the hiking trails. At the Natural History Museum, we visited the creepy CSI Bugs display—it comes complete with simulated morgue body freezer (and body). If you haven’t been to the Lied Children’s Discovery Museum lately (right across from the Natural History Museum in the Cultural Corridor), I’m happy to say that the exhibits have been both improved and expanded. My favorite new exhibit was the hurricane winds exhibit, which allows visitors to stand inside a phone-booth type contraption while a fan whips up the “wind” to about 78 mph.

The Old Mormon Fort, also located on the Cultural Corridor, is the oldest non-native building in the state of Nevada. Today only a portion of the original 1855 adobe remains in the ranch house. I was impressed with the visitor’s center; ask for a treasure hunt to keep your young scholar occupied finding the freight wagon, petrified wood, and other artifacts. Dedicated restoration prevented the Fort from suffering the same fate as the Kiel Ranch. By far, the most intriguing figure of early Las Vegas history, in my opinion, is Helen J. Stewart, a pioneer woman who wound up in charge of one of Las Vegas’ most important early stops after her husband was killed in a gunfight. (By the way, the local school is not named for the pioneer woman herself but for her handicapped granddaughter.)
Photo information: My pictures of the fort. Hard to believe, but this slice of very old Vegas history is at the corner of Washington and Las Vegas Boulevard.

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