1001 amazing inventions from the muslim world

Last Thursday i attended the teacher preview night
for National Geographic Museum’s 1001 Inventions that just opened in DC.
This exhibition has had over 2 million visitors after hitting
New York, London, LA, Istanbul & Abu Dhabi.
And now it is HERE!

1001 Inventions transports you into a bazaar of ideas.

In this exhibition you’ll find connections
to modern day technologies in the realms of
travel & architecture,
education & games,
health & beauty,
art & design,
astronomy & agriculture
and much more,
all from the Golden Age of Muslim civilization
which lasted from the 7th to 17th centuries.

i read somewhere that inventors and their inventions
are like a line of people with buckets of knowledge,
where each inventor takes from previous inventors buckets.
Inventors use the knowledge of those before,
add their own ideas,
maybe mixing in bits and pieces from other disciplines,
to improve upon the stream of human knowledge
or create something new.
During the Golden Age, there were LOTS of buckets a-pourin’
from Spain, deep into Africa, all the way across to China.

A model Al Jazari’s massive Elephant Clock and Ibn Firnas’ hang glider.

One of the inventors featured in this exhibition is Ibn Firnas
who hung in the air for more than 10 minutes in his hang glider,
paving the way for the Wright Brothers,
almost seven centuries before Leonardo da Vinci
made his famous drawings of bird-inspired flying machines.

“Merriam” Al-Astrulabiya made astrolabes,
complex devices used to tell time and navigate,
like a hand-held mini computer predating GPS by thousands of years.
Al-Astrulabiya was highly educated
and had a job working for the Sultan of modern day Syria
in a time when many European women couldn’t even own property.

Pick up the receiver and let Al Jahiz tell you a little something.

Learn about the rags to riches tale of writer and scientist, Al Jahiz,
an African man who grew up in Basra (Iraq)
who later became an adviser to the Caliph in 9th century Baghdad.
Al Jahiz wrote nearly 200 books that spanned science, literature, theology and politics.

1001 Inventions is a text-heavy exhibit
more suitable for older children and adults,
but there are a good deal of interactive features
that stand out making the exhibit available for a younger audience:

Ibn Firnas Glider Game

Flap your arms like a bird
and help Ibn Firnas fly as far as he can
while collecting strong but little cups of (probably Turkish) coffee for energy
and avoiding pesky obstacles.

You’ve got just two minutes to
use the joystick to guide this early Muslim man
throughout a home of today
to find influences from the early Muslim world.

Spin the globe to listen to Muslim explorers, like Zheng He,
tell you about their international exploits.

1001 Inventions will be in DC at the National Geographic Museum
( 1145 17th Street NW Washington, DC, 20036 )
until 3 February 2013.
Museum admission for adults is $8,
with a $2 discount for museum members, military, seniors,
students, and groups of 25 or more.
Admission for children 5-12 is $4,
while school and youth groups 18 and under are free.

Not to be missed is the free 1001 Inventions Family Festival
on September 8, 2012 from 10 AM – 4 PM
with lots of hands-on activities,
artist demonstrations,
dance workshops,
music performances,
and an outdoor arts and crafts bazaar.

And if you do miss it,
you can still check out the family workshops once a month on Saturdays at 1 PM.
There are also drop-in workshops daily at 2 PM.
If you can get a group together, they will do the workshops
at a time better suited for your group.

As if that isn’t enough, there are lots of other events related to the exhibition:

1001 Inventions is the kind of exhibition that would definitely benefit
from some preparatory exploration with the kids,
so download the elementary and middle school educator guides.
Heck! Download them even if you can’t go!

This exhibition is subtitled “Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization”,
but it’s not a “Muslim thing”.
In many cases Muslim scientists — as any good scientist will do —
used prior sources of knowledge
(why reinvent the wheel, right?)
while working along side other scientists from across the globe.
This exhibit is about shedding light and providing perspective
on Muslim contributions to the world
during what must have been an amazing time to be alive
and how these once-forgotten innovations have helped shaped our world today.

There is something at 1001 Inventions for lovers of
math, science, technology, medicine, agriculture, art and history
There’s something for everyone!

If you do nothing else before you go (or not), watch this!: