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Visit to America's Ann Arbor city that homes the sprawling Michigan University: A travel note
The year before last, I happened to visit my US-resident friend Dilip Nagarkar, an IIT graduate, who was my neighbour during his employment in Haryana. He took me around the Ann Arbor city in the state of Michigan.

When we entered the city, Dilip informed, "Founded in early 19th century, the city has grown into one the largest cities in the state of Michigan. The city has acquired its name from the bur oak trees, which are abundant in country side. When, we will drive through the university campus and by the river side, you will realise that the city lives up to its name."

First we drove through the campus of the University of Michigan and I was told that the University was shifted from Detroit to Ann Arbor in 1837, thereafter, the city grew rapidly and also got known for the Leftist activism which was at its peak during the anti-Vietnam War movement.

Looking at the huge structures housing various departments, stadia and study centres, the University of Michigan has acquired the status of one of the foremost research universities in the United States and become the main hub of Ann Arbor's economy. The medical centre here has thousands of workers. The football stadium on the campus is one of the largest in the US, I was told. 

Around the university campus many high technology companies exist which have links with the university's research and development infrastructure.

Dilip then took me to the Fuller Recreation Area, near the University Hospital complex. Here, I saw that the area had several sports fields, pedestrian walkways, bike paths, water bodies and swimming pools. The main attraction here was the Nichols Arboretum belonging to the University spread over hundreds of acres of land that contained several hundreds of plant and tree species. It was the lushest green areas, I had ever seen.

Another location which we drove through was the university's Matthaei Botanical Gardens which were located across the Huron River spread over 300 acres of gardens and huge tropical conservatory. Just driving around the campus and enjoying its environs took half the day.

As we drove around in the city's residential area dotted with very many parks and recreation areas, we saw that residential neighbourhoods had houses with architectural styles with classic 19th century designs as well as those modern ranch-style houses. Then we reached the Kerrytown Shops commercial area in downtown Ann Arbor which had a mix of old-style structures, modern-style buildings and a small number of high-rise buildings. We had a quick lunch here and headed for the Hands-on Museum for Children that were the main interest of mine.

The place was full of children and toddlers gaining multisensory experiences in various sections of the two-storied building to explore sections like H2Oh (water play), whisper dishes, tornado, Building in a Building, and Explore Your World, etc. Both free-play and guided activities with children were being held.

We were told that the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum education programs and exhibits provide opportunities for children and adults to awaken curiosity, stimulate observation and exploration skills, and enhance school curriculum.

"Our Museum educators design programs that address state and national science and technology education standards," the organisers told.

We spent about hours at this place looking at the exhibits and activities related to early childhood training and education. The early detection of children's disabilities also is done here for early intervention.

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