Punch T. rex on the nose

Projected images of teensy tiny tyrannosaurs running around Circular Quay are on the walls of the entry walk into the exhibition, exploding the myth of tyrannosaurs as big, nostrilly giants with girlie arms and scary teeth, writes Alex Brooks for Daily Telegraph’s Best Weekend section.

Australian Museum Dinosaur exhibition

Jackson, stop playing on that phone and start interacting,” implores a mother at the Australian Museum’s latest blockbuster exhibition, Tyrannosaurs: Meet The Family.

Jackson reluctantly stops playing Candy Crush to swipe a few dinosaur eggs across what looks like a giant iPad table — one of many technology-led features in this dinosaur extravaganza.

Projected images of teensy tiny tyrannosaurs running around Circular Quay are on the walls of the entry walk into the exhibition, exploding the myth of tyrannosaurs as big, nostrilly giants with girlie arms and scary teeth.

This exhibition aims to show a more intimate and scientific view of the big scary dinosaur family, which has way more to it than just the big and scary T.rex, which roamed the continent now known as North America.

In other parts of the world, tyrannosaurs were the size of turkeys and the daddy tyrannosaurs were nice enough to sit on the nest of eggs, much like the Australian emu and cassowary who seem to have some prehistoric links to the dinosaur family.

Tyrannosaurs: Meet The Family is more stage show than science, though. There’s a dramatic wall showing huge-scale images of dinosaurs walking through the hallways of the museum while big red signs flash “evacuate”.

When visitors stand in a particular yellow square, they can punch, kick or pat those impostor museum dinosaurs on the big screen.

My kids are dying to take their turn standing on the square and punch a dinosaur on the nose, but enthralled toddlers and preschoolers keep cutting in front of them.

“T.rex might be a two-year-old’s dinosaur fantasy but it doesn’t scare those little kids enough to stand in line,” sulks the oldest son.

My kids run off to find a toddler-free zone where they can muscle their way in to squeeze, jump, stare and press buttons.

There’s a bite force machine, allowing kids to press a handle to ascertain their own bite force — 31kg for the oldest son, compared to T.rex’s 3100kg and a lion’s 560kg.

The kids then jump as hard (and loud) as they can on some kind of crater and meteor simulating machine, supposedly helping my boys explore one of the theories of dinosaur extinction. My kids stomp hard enough to create a meteor that is 10km wide and pound the earth with a 350km crater. Other adults in the exhibition possibly did not need to hear such a grating cacophony of interactive learning.

Welcome to the modern museum, where hands-on experience, augmented reality and 3-D technology have replaced dioramas of fusty old stuffed animals.

Heck, there’s even a free app to download so you can keep on playing, swiping and pinging tyrannosaurs on your phone even when you’ve left the exhibition. That would make Jackson happy …Alex Brooks is executive editor of Kidspot.com.au, where you can find thousands of events and things to do with kids

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Things to do & travel