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'Dinosaur Petting Zoo' and high-tech scavenger hunt help kids learn about prehistoric creatures


Dinosaur On April 21 at 3 p.m., Henderson Lawn will be transformed into a dinosaur playground, where a cast of dinosaurs take audience members on an interactive, prehistoric journey.

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 4, 2013 – To celebrate Earth Day, the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology are bringing area children and their families two unique opportunities to learn about the prehistoric creatures that roamed the landscape millions of years ago.

On Sunday, April 21, a dinosaur scavenger hunt will be held on the Virginia Tech campus, culminating with the “Dinosaur Petting Zoo,” an interactive performance featuring an amazing selection of dinosaurs. 

All activities are free and open to the public.

At 3 p.m., Henderson Lawn, located on the corner of Main Street and College Avenue on the Virginia Tech campus, will be transformed into a dinosaur playground, where a cast of dinosaurs take audience members on an interactive, prehistoric journey. Australian physical and visual theatre company Erth’s “Dinosaur Petting Zoo” features a large-scale cast of dinosaur puppets brought to life by sophisticated design and theatrical presentation and puppet mastery. 

These life-like dinosaur recreations connect children to paleontology in a fun and educational setting.  Children will have the opportunity to help feed, water, and care for a variety of dinosaurs, including the Leallynasaurus, Meganeura, T-Rex, Titanosaur, and the baby Dryosaurs. The performance is recommended for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. Refer to the Center for the Arts website for information regarding a rain location for the event.

Before the “Dinosaur Petting Zoo” begins, children can join a DinoDig, a traditional scavenger hunt with a technological twist. Accompanied by an adult with an iPhone or Android phone, participants adopt the role of a paleontologist’s apprentice and visit various locations guided by a location-based, augmented reality app. The game allows participants to interact with their environment at each location and learn dinosaur-related facts. Each stop includes a challenge (answering a trivia question or completing other tasks) to earn virtual dinosaur bones and clues to the next location.

The DinoDig starts at the plaza between the Graduate Life Center and Squires Student Center and the predetermined on-campus route stretches less than a mile. The event officially starts at 1 p.m., but participants can join in any time until 2:30 p.m. The hunt takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, and will finish at Henderson Lawn, the location of the “Dinosaur Petting Zoo” performance. DinoDig is designed for children who can read or have an adult who can provide assistance.

DinoDig is co-presented by the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology; the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech; and Radford University.  The event is sponsored by the Children’s Museum of Blacksburg and FreshAiR, a location-based software platform and phone app that allows users to have new and different experiences in an existing environment using their smartphones. Participants in the DinoDig will need to download the FreshAir app on their iPhone or Android phone before starting the scavenger hunt.

Launched in 2005 as an arts initiative, Arts@Virginia Tech encompasses all efforts within departments and colleges and at the university level to expand creative practice and support interdisciplinary learning, engagement, and discovery through the arts. The cornerstone project of Arts@Virginia Tech is the Moss Arts Center, which houses the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech professional presenting program; the university-level Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology; and television and lab spaces for the Department of Communication.

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