They may not be as fleet-footed as frogs or as flashy as, say, fireflies, but turtles -- unhurried and self-contained -- have charms all their own. Starting this Friday, September 19, a world-première exhibition at the Mesa Southwest Museum takes a long look under the shell. Through specimens living and fossilized, "Turtles: Origins to World Domination" explores theories about the origin of turtles, the reptiles' radical anatomical organization, and their influence on ancient and modern cultures. Fossils include extinct turtles, giant land tortoises, and extinct horned and "winged" turtles; the exhibition also addresses issues of conservation, adaptation, and keeping the creatures as pets. On Saturday, September 20, Turtle Family Day offers special activities from noon to 3 p.m. The exhibition remains on display through April 18, 2004, at the museum, 53 North Macdonald in downtown Mesa. Call 480-644-2230 for more information. - Jill Koch
Drum One, Drum All
Find the beat at PAT
The family that clangs together hangs together. Children 5 to 12 and their adult companions are invited to make some noise at the Phoenix Art Museum, where, on September 21, the Family Sundays program explores Japanese taiko drumming. Activities are free with museum admission. See www.phxart.org. - Jill Koch
A Little Lab'll Do Ya
Science takes center stage
So there is such a thing as a free launch. On Saturday, September 20, the community is invited to enjoy a free-for-all (free general admission, that is) at the Arizona Science Center, where activities include building and launching soda bottle rockets and participating in interactive technology demos. Motorola's "FREEdom to Explore Day: Showcasing 75 years of Innovation at the Arizona Science Center" runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the center, 600 East Washington. Call 602-716-2000 or see www.azscience.org for more information. - Jill Koch
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Dancers With Wolf
Children need symphony
Kids can join the high-culture club when the Phoenix Symphony's 2003-'04 Family Series -- one-hour concerts tailored for children 6 to 12 and their families -- begins Sunday, September 21. Associate conductor Robert Moody leads the symphony in a program of musical tales, including Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, as guest dancers from Ballet Etudes transform the melodies into motion. Showtime is 2:30 p.m. at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams, with preconcert activities starting an hour prior in the lobby: Fans can meet the musicians, chat with the conductor, solve musical puzzles and try out a few instruments. Tickets are $9 and $15; call 602-495-1999 or see www.phoenixsymphony.org. - Jill Koch