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CHECK IT OUT

What: "In the Dark," an exhibit on how plants and animals survive in darkness.

Where: Buffalo Museum of Science.

When: Through Jan. 11.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; until 10 p.m. Friday.

Admission: $5.25 for adults; $3.25 for children, seniors, students with ID.

From the darkest corners of the natural world, nocturnal creatures have been gathered to give insight into how they make their way in a world of darkness. Perspectives are given from below the ground, in caves and under the ocean.

This exhibit, produced by the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, won't go down in history as one of the Buffalo Science Museum's blockbusters. It's not in the category of spiders, dinosaurs and whales. One of the interactives, which relied on magnets, wasn't working on the day we visited, and it wasn't clear what the point was in a few others.

But there are things to see and to do. And to learn.

"It's been popular with teachers," said Patrick Keyes, the Science Museum's public information officer. "It's quite educational."

One site that's seeing a lot of action is a darkened room where visitors can observe and learn about a hedgehog, a ring-tailed cat, a tarantula, a skink and millipedes. (These demonstrations are given at 10, 10:30 and 11 a.m. and 1:30 and 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.)

Also, there's a pitch-black room, about the size of a telephone booth, where a person attempts to slip an object through a hole cut to size. Meanwhile, on the outside, his friends can observe his fumble-fingered efforts with the help of a night vision camera.

At "Beyond the Basement Wall" it's possible to see a cross-section of life in a back yard, with its earthworm tunnels, mole burrows and bumblebee nests.

To learn how animals with poor vision hunt, children can slip on a sort of oven mitt device that represents the head of a "heat-seeking" pit viper snake. They then attempt to track an invisible rat as it moves across a screen.

If you really want to challenge your powers of observation, try to match the flashing light patterns at the firefly exhibit.

Of course, there are some CD-ROM stations. At one, you can take a deep-sea dive and learn about giant squids, dolphins and other sea creatures as you dive to the ocean depths. At another spot, you will hear the vibrational sounds of lawn mowers, running water and other devices. Then your job is to guess how you, as an underground mouse, should react.

Also, there's a spot set up as a den, with a couch and TV where you can relax and watch videos that range from serious National Geographic productions to a collection of "Are You Afraid of the Dark: Ghostly Tales."

A small display shows aids that are used by visually impaired people, including a device that can "read" currency and announce whether the bill is $1 or $100, and electronic devices that are placed in sport balls to help locate them.

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