FUTURISTIC City of Science and Industry's G¿ode is 36 meters across. The shiny metal sphere stands in contrast to the dozens of angular red follies that dot the adjacent park. Image: ART ON FILE / Corbis
Seven workers in hard hats and orange vests load wheelbarrows with bricks and run the loads along tracks to a red crane, where an operator pivots the machine, positioning the pulley. Slowly, the gray bricks fill in the yellow skeleton of the building. After 15 minutes or so, one of the workers decides his work is done. He leaves the bricks behind, ambles past the booth stationed near the entrance of the construction site, and starts tugging at his hat and vest. Suddenly, he remembers his parents and wildly looks around for them. Once they are well in hand, the worker, age four, heads off to repair a nearby car.
The City of Children, part of the City of Science and Industry (Cit¿ des Sciences et de l'Industrie) complex in northeastern Paris, immerses kids ages three through 12 in the ways of invention and deduction. So engaging are many of the activities that some parents have to hold themselves back a bit. "Let them be," cautions a sign near the construction site. One father, seemingly smitten with the engineering possibilities, disregards the warning and gets a brick (foam) to the head when the crane (roughly his height) swings around.
This article was originally published with the title Follies and Foucault's Pendulum.