If you send a tweet and have no followers, what happens? Is it like the tree that falls in the woods when no one is around. Does the falling tree make a sound?
Apparently, the tweet will sound if someone is following the subject. So when I tepidly tweeted for the first time ever Friday that Carowinds is adding Dinosaurs Alive for 2013, someone might have picked it up.
It was appropriate the subject was dinosaurs.
In the new age of cyberjournalism we are asked to take photos, shoot video, tweet, and post to Heraldonline.com and social media sites. All this has to happen before we begin thinking of what might appear in the next day’s newspaper.
But for those of us who started in the days of typewriters and tri-x film that pace certainly makes us feel like dinosaurs at times.
I’m not sure dinosaurs are the best subject for tweets anyway, when you’re trying to get your message out in 140 characters or less.
By my Twitter account’s count, “A giganteus Ruyangosaurus from the late cretaceous period” is 63 characters with spaces, leaving me enough space to write, “is the largest dinosaur of the new exhibit at Carowinds, 40 feet high, 90 ft long.” I wanted to add sauropod – which means a large, four-legged, plant-eating dinosaur with a bulky trunk, long neck and tail, and a tiny head with a small brain – but didn’t have the space.
But technology and dinosaurs are being combined. Technology is what makes Dinosaurs Alive possible. Dinosaurs Unearthed of Richmond, Canada has the creative and technological skills to bring creatures to life that last walked the earth between 245 million and 65 million years ago.
Their animatronics creations can have up to eight separate movements. Dinosaurs can blink their eyes, roar, turn their necks and limbs, swing their tails and contract or expand their bodies. The exhibit will have some dinosaurs that can be controlled by the visitors.
Cindy Dey of Lake Wylie Elementary in Charlotte met one of Dinosaurs Unearthed’s creations last Friday, a small dilaphosaurus named “Carosaurus” when she took the stage at the Carowinds Theater.
“This is the first time I’ve come face-to-face with a dinosaur,” Dey told her students. “Behave, or I’ll put you in timeout,” she warned Carosaurus.
Dey’s message was, “now is the time for technology to drive learning, to create new dreams.” She said those dreams may lead to someone becoming a paleontologist, an engineer or the person who takes animatronics to the next level. Those dreams could start at Carowinds.
Carowinds is following the lead other Cedar Fair parks in adding Dinosaurs Alive. The exhibit is already on display at six sister parks. Dinosaurs Unearthed also has taken its exhibits to museums.
Bart Kinzel, Carowinds’ general manager who has worked in amusements parks for more than 30 years, said doesn’t know much about dinosaurs now, put predicted he will know much more as he follows the installation of the exhibit this winter.
He wants those who come to Carowinds to learn too. The Dinosaurs Alive exhibit has been aligned to meet the science, technology, engineering and math education standards in North Carolina and South Carolina. Kinzel said he hopes the chance to see, hear and touch will help inspire those who need more than books to help them learn.
The goal is to make it educational and fun. It’s also designed to encourage interaction between parent and child, another key to education, Dey said.
With a $5 admission charge, it will be a challenge to captivate children and their parents for return visits. Nonetheless, Carowinds deserves credit for its decision. If Dinosaurs Alive sparks the interest, the creativity and the passion of children to learn and explore, well, that’s priceless.
Don Worthington 803-329-4066 firstname.lastname@example.org