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Learning in action in Acton, Amtrak fully reopens Northwest route, and an armchair trip around the globe

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Stop by Acton’s Discovery Museum during school vacation week, April 16-21, to help design, build, and explore a mini city made from cardboard— a temporary “tinytropolis” (pictured here) that will grow and evolve all week. Or play with toy prototypes made by MIT students and offer feedback on their engineering creations.Handout


Hands-on learning at local museum

It’s not every day that you’re encouraged to take apart a computer, dissect real owl pellets, and make a mess with paint — all in the name of learning. Acton’s Discovery Museum has a fun lineup of April programs geared to keep kids pondering, playing, and having fun. Find out what owls eat as you dissect their scat (April 2, 1-3 p.m.), take apart a telephone, computer, or other electronic device to learn about resistors and circuit boards (April 5, 2-4 p.m.), and use balls dipped in paint to produce artworks while learning about physics, creativity, and movement (April 6, 10 a.m.-noon). During school vacation week, April 16-21, swing by the museum to help design, build, and explore a mini city made from cardboard — a temporary “tinytropolis” that will grow and evolve all week. Or play with toy prototypes made by MIT students and offer feedback on their engineering creations. Interested in how things work? Come dig your hands into playdough to make LEDs light up and buzzers sound off — a fun lesson in circuitry (April 26) — and stop in the da Vinci Workshop to learn how to use hand drills, hammers, and other tools for woodworking (April 13 and 27). Advance reservations required. Admission free for those younger than the age of 1 and for teachers; $16 for 60 and older; and $17 for ages 1 and older. www.discoveryacton.org

The sun sets over Puget Sound in Edmonds, Wash., as seen from the Amtrak Empire Builder.Christopher Muther/Globe Staff



Amtrak fully reopens Northwest route

Enjoy stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, San Juan Islands, Puget Sound, and a string of volcanoes running up the Cascade Range when you travel on Amtrak’s Cascades train from Oregon to British Columbia. The Pacific Northwest train service resumed full operation last month after being shut down since 2020. The train follows right along the water north of Seattle and connects 12 stations between Portland and Vancouver including Washington state capital Olympia, Seattle, Everett (home to the Boeing Future of Flight galleries and Sky Deck experience), and Mt. Vernon, which draws more than 1 million people for its annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival every April. The Cascades train has a café car featuring products grown or made in the Pacific Northwest (try Ivar’s New England-style clam chowder), large seats with good leg room (and no middle seats), and a generous baggage policy — you can bring two personal items and two carry-on bags at no cost. The northbound train leaves Portland at 3:05 p.m. (stopping in Seattle at 7 p.m.) and arrives in Vancouver at 11 p.m., while the southbound train departs Vancouver at 6:35 a.m. (with an 11 a.m. Seattle stop) and arrives in Portland at 2:55 p.m. Tickets start at $104 roundtrip for the Portland-Vancouver route; ages 2 and under ride free. www.amtrakcascades.com


Graeme Green’s new tabletop book, “The New Big 5: A Global Photography Project for Endangered Wildlife” (to be released April 4 by Earth Aware Editions), includes photos from 146 of the world’s top wildlife photographers.Handout


Inspiring photo book redefines the ‘big five’

Take an armchair trip around the globe with 146 of the world’s top wildlife photographers, as you explore images and habitats of magnificent creatures in a new tabletop book: “The New Big 5: A Global Photography Project for Endangered Wildlife,” to be released April 4 by Earth Aware Editions. The term “big five” historically referred to the five big-game animals that proved most challenging for trophy hunters to kill — namely lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and African buffalo. Wildlife photographer Graeme Green launched his New Big 5 project in 2020 to dispel the antiquated term and highlight the five top animals that people would prefer to see shot — with a camera, not a gun — according to a survey he ran. Green’s new book includes more than 200 images of the new big five — elephants, polar bears, lions, gorillas, and tigers — from leading photographers such as Ami Vitale, Steve McCurry, and Brian Skerry of Milton, a photojournalist who attended Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College and went on to win the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year award 11 times. The book also weaves in essays by some of the world’s most accomplished and vocal conservationists, such as Jane Goodall, Tara Stoinski (CEO of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund), and Krista Wright (executive director of Polar Bears International). The book’s stunning photos will transport you into the jungles of Rwanda and Uganda, home to mountain gorillas; to the open plains of Manitoba and the glacial landscapes in Norway, major habitats for the polar bears; to the many national parks and conservation areas of central Africa, home to majestic elephants and lions; and into Indian landscapes where tigers navigate lush terrain. $75. https://insighteditions.com/products/the-new-big-5



Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at travelwriter@karib.us.