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New dinosaur exhibit brings Oklahoma's prehistoric past to life

“Red Dirt Dinos: An Oklahoma Dinosaur Adventure” is on display at Science Museum Oklahoma through March 15.
BY TIFFANY M. POOLE Modified: October 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm •  Published: October 18, 2013

The dinosaurs that roamed Oklahoma hundreds of millions ago are the stars of a new exhibit at Science Museum Oklahoma.

The exhibit, “Red Dirt Dinos: An Oklahoma Dinosaur Adventure,” brings these Oklahoma giants back to life in an interactive and educational experience that will jump-start the imagination and pique the curiosity of the young and old. Red Dirt Dinos explores a few of the dinosaurs that once made their home here and puts paleontology in the spotlight. It uses both fun and play to educate visitors on the science used to unearth these prehistoric giants.

Created exclusively for the Oklahoma Museum Network, Red Dirt Dinos was more than two years in the making and made possible financially by a $3 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. Oklahoma Museum Network officials teamed up with Dallas-based KumoTek to design and build the animatronic dinosaurs, and the Minneapolis company VEE Inc. for the interactive programming.

Red Dirt Dinos features three dinosaurs native to what is now Oklahoma — Deinonychus (“terrible claw”), Tenontosaurus (“sinew lizard”) and Acrocanthosaurus (“high-spined lizard”), the official dinosaur of the state of Oklahoma. The exhibit uses new technology and hands-on, interactive and educational stations to bring to life prehistoric Oklahoma and these three colossal natives as prehistoric robots.

“Oklahoma has a very rich paleontological history, and it's really exciting to debut a one-of-a-kind exhibit that's never been done before,” said Sherry Marshall, Oklahoma Museum Network director.

The dinosaurs respond to environmental stimuli including movement and sound, creating a unique and immersive experience for visitors, organizers said. The gigantic animatronics are interactive thanks to the infrared technology of a cleverly hidden Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect. Users control the Xbox 360 console and games with their voices and body movements instead of with a handheld controller.

“You're never too old to learn, and play is a critical part of learning, which we try to introduce in all of our exhibits, along with investigation, inquiry and content,” Marshall said. “Red Dirt Dinos is not only a great educational opportunity, but it's fun, too, because kids love dinosaurs, and we encourage parents to participate with their child so that families can interact and learn together.”

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