Summer is a great time to fit in an extra-special field trip. Many families take off time from school, but that doesn’t mean that kids have to stop learning. The South Carolina Upstate is within a reasonable drive of mountains, lakes, beaches, museums, and even a few zoos, so the options for day trips are outstanding. For those who enjoy longer trips and overnight stays away from home, the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter in northern Kentucky are excellent choices to expand students’ understanding of how well the Bible fits into science and history.
The Creation Museum focuses on Christian apologetics. It provides insight into the early chapters of the book of Genesis and shows how the Bible remains relevant today. While the primary path through the museum focuses on God’s plan for human history, side exhibits include a large collection of insects and displays detailing historical encounters with “dragons” that support the post-Flood existence of dinosaurs. Fossil exhibits include explanations how the worldview of an observer affects how he perceives what he finds. The museum property also includes a botanical garden and petting zoo; additional fees apply for planetarium showings and the zip line course. If you wish to visit the planetarium, be sure to purchase tickets early in the day; they sell out quickly.
The Ark Encounter is a 45-minute drive from the Creation Museum, but it’s a fairly straight hop between the two. Visitors enter from underneath the Ark and wind through successive levels to reach the top floor. Shallow ramps link the levels, making access for wheelchairs, strollers, and scooters easy. Exhibits reflect ways that the original Ark’s occupants could have overcome logistical problems in caring for a boatload of animals for a year. While no record exists of exactly how Noah’s family handled specific challenges, the designers show that the Bible record is actually workable, unlike storybook “ark” depictions or descriptions of ark stories preserved through oral tradition in other cultures. Outside, visitors can visit the petting zoo or share a meal at the restaurant on site. Like the Museum, the Ark property also offers zip lines for an additional fee.
Early this summer, I had the opportunity to visit the Ark Encounter myself. While I had only a few hours available—a full day would have been better!—I did have enough time to pick a few favorite areas before it was time to go. One was an exhibit provided in cooperation with the Museum of the Bible, depicting the spread of the Bible and the Gospel through various places in the world, including Hudson Taylor’s China Inland Mission. Another was a scaled-down Ark model, which allows visitors to take in the layout of the ship as a whole. A list of animal “kinds” posted nearby provides a framework for understanding how all the creatures could have fit onboard, along with food and other supplies. The souvenir shop near the exit offers not only a wide number of books and DVDs, but also handcrafted items to support missions efforts around the world, stuffed animals, the usual T-shirts and other mementos, and fudge—lots of it, handmade on the premises.
For more information, visit arkencounter.com and creationmuseum.org. Even if you cannot visit in person, the web sites offer a number of 360° views of exhibits and descriptions of the various topics the museums explore.