Reinvent Yourself

Surely you have friends in Fort Worth who've been nagging you to visit. "A nice long weekend visit," they may have said. "And bring the kids." Wow, you thought. A weekend in Fort Worth with the kids. We've found a good way for you to meet your social obligations, enjoy (possibly) your kids and spend at least all day Saturday having techno-fun with a science twist. Of course, your kids won't know it's science. The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is bringing back its annual MindFest with a theme of reinvention and creative play.

"Our theme is really about reinventing yourself," says Megan Adams, the museum's assistant director of guest programs. "Most of the activity leaders or artists have been inspired by creative reuse of things." She cites the art and musical instruments of Augie N'Kele' who will perform and help participants create their own recycled pieces from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. "His musical instruments are exquisite examples of adapting industry's discards in objects of beauty and usefulness," Adams says.

The festival starts on Friday evening with a music performance at 7 p.m. by Walter Kitundu, who plays instruments he made from old record players. Kitundu's performance is followed at 8 p.m. by the Re-adaptive Film Festival, an outdoor movie from San Francisco's Exploratorium, which reveals all sorts of film trickery, including "fast film" which splices old movie bits together to make a single feature.

Saturday dawns at a decent 10 a.m. with back-to-back programs and activities sure to amuse and amaze. From 10 a.m. to noon, it's Micro Take Apart, during which participants will disassemble old appliances to find interesting objects. Roaming exhibits happen all day throughout the museum, featuring staff and volunteers who've turned themselves into interactive exhibits. The Fort Worth Botanic Gardens sponsors creative builders using recycled containers to form bugs, robots or other creatures from 10 a.m. to noon and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

We're betting the Stomp Rockets activity will be the day's favorite, held out on the museum's east parking lot from 10:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Recycled pipe, plastic bottles and paper can be combined to make a soaring rocket, propelled by a vigorous human stomp. Also in the east parking lot, chief curator Jim Diffily, a tool guy and tinkerer on the side, will help participants explore the inner workings of a derelict car. Scratch Animation will fascinate film and camera buffs, who can use a foot-long piece of movie film and common abrasive tools to create interesting animated patterns. All film strips will be spliced together and shown at the end of the festival.

Back in the museum's ExploraZone, families can create musical compositions using sugar, salt, forks, melons and vegetables during Melon Harp from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Staff will help participants experiment with the electrical properties of fruit plus MIDI audio technology. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in ExploraZone, you're invited to create and then animate geometric patterns with staff assisting to change color, size, shape and direction. Throughout the day, you can drop in on concerts by Mondo Drummers, Augie N'Kele' and Walter Kitundu. It's a weekend to keep in mind.

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Annabelle Massey Helber

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