Momma Told Me: CA Science Center:Space Shuttle Endeavor,Aquatic Tank + High Wire Bike

Sunday, July 28, 2013

CA Science Center:Space Shuttle Endeavor,Aquatic Tank + High Wire Bike

Momma Told Me: Learning can be fun.

So yesterday officially marks the return of my extra +2 rugrats, back home until Winter break. That means it will just be Sabrina and I from here on out this Summer; and we already have a slew of plans, including a combination Lemonade/Cupcake Stand, and a box full of the hottest holiday toys for 2013! Though my home may be somewhat back to it's normal 'kid free' clutter, I do feel a bit behind sharing all of the amazing things we've been doing the past few weeks. Some of our 'events' have been very photo intensive, so do bear with us, I'll try to keep the narrative shorter than my usual long-winded paragraphs, so you can enjoy a simple look into these activities.
Space Shuttle Endeavor
Having grown up in Southern California there were no shortage of engaging places to visit on school trips. Within an hour drive we have authentic Missions, Cultural and Arts Museums, 2 zoos, and a plethora of educational landmarks. While Momma always tried to keep our Summer engaging, we never traveled into Los Angeles to visit the bigger staples. Traffic can be horrendous, let alone the swarms of children and camp groups taking refuge in the 'free' public museums, and it was never quite her thing. However, there was one place I went to, twice, on field trips in school, that really stuck out to me; the California Science Center. With an attached IMAX venue that boasts a staggering 7 story x 90' screen, and 44 speaker surround sound, the California Science Center admission is free for over 100 stable exhibits across 8 themed halls and 3 stories.

Other than your obvious science exploratory topics, the CSC also features guest and traveling exhibits, though the most notable currently is the hanger which has become the new forever home of the retired Space Shuttle Endeavor. After touring the country, and being pulled by a Toyota Tundra through the streets of Los Angeles, the Endeavor found a home among several specialized exhibits including a mock up of Rocketdyne labs (utilizing real, donated equipment), a video demonstration and actual Space Potty system, and physical shuttle tires that guests are encouraged to touch. For me, though, one of the coolest things about this exhibit was the very first exhibit guests see walking off the parking lot. There, suspended at the end of a big pulley system is the same Tundra that guided the shuttle to it's final resting space. With 3 varied leverage angles, guests are encouraged to learn about force and levers in an experiment that actually challenges them to lift a half ton truck!
Of course, if you want to see the actual Endeavor, you are asked to make a small monetary donation, per person, to help regulate the speed of visitors to the exhibits, and maintain costs for upcoming related exhibits. I'm not sure how much the children took away from this portion of our visit, but Jay was fascinated, and I was glad to have the experience to share someday. I'll admit, though, I was expecting the shuttle to seem much bigger in person; I can't imagine being stuck inside with all the equipment and a crew for weeks on end. And we all may have meteorite radiation from touching the tires (joking), but that certainly is something that brought smiles and wonder to everyone in our party, from eldest to youngest.
I couldnt possibly shove all 100+ exhibits into a post, so I've tried to edit myself to the biggest highlights for the kids. Sabrina's(10) been wanting to get to an aquarium for a while now, so the modestly sized tank enclosed in the water habitat wing was a real hit. There were plenty of giant tanks with smaller sea critters (starfish, kelp, crayfish, guppies, etc), but everyone really lit up when we passed through a clear tunnel, under water, and into a giant theater style room with a 40'+ tank wall. We just might have spent the largest amount of time in one place at this exhibit, where beautiful sharks crossed paths, and over 30 species of aquatic animals mingled among anemones and various sea plants. There was even a big fish the size of the 3-year-old! Later, on the floor above this exhibit we got to touch and see kelp, as well as interact with a touch tank where the kids could touch cone shark eggs and living starfish.
High Wire Bicycle
It's hard to ignore one of the Science Center's most popular stable exhibits, as it literally smacks you in the face, the head?, upon entrance. 43' above the main lobby is a Highwire Bicycle open for guests to ride at $3 an experience. With a safety net spanning the 36' wire ride, and several harnesses, this bike also has educational properties. It remains impressively balanced thanks to the 250 pound counterweight suspended from the bottom. Teaching the 'center of gravity' law, guests 200lbs and less, and bout 4'+ in height can face their fears and pedal across the giant chasm twice. On the second lap back they are encouraged to remove their hands from the side grips and play with balance (none of our girls felt comfortable enough to do that, but I did capture several smiles).
High Wire Bicycle
The younger of the two girls(8) literally begged to go on this exhibit, which I was happy to allow- but soon rethought her decision when the time came. Luckily Sabrina (10), who was more nervous was happy to step up and show her new sister there was nothing to fear. By the time Kiara (8) sat her butt in the chair, she was all smiles- how's that for something to add to a 'What I Did This Summer' essay? By the time we left the California Science Center everyone was literally exhausted from all of the exploration. As ti turns out, the car was exhausted as well, as everything inside the car seemed to have begun to melt! I picked up my purse from the passengers seat (rule #1 when going out with kids, use backpacks or totes over purses), and a big gooey glob of peach lip gloss melted all down the side of my leather purse. And that's precisely why, if you see me walking down the street today, my purse now sparkles!

Do you have a free museum or science center your family likes to visit during the Summer?

What Daughter Says: Hands on education is great to keep kids engaged and to help absorb principles with visual and textural references.

6 comments:

  1. I think I would enjoy the aquarium the most. I can't imagine how neat it must have been to get that close to a shark. Maybe some day!

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  2. I love going to places like this. Brings out the little kid in me again.

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  3. My daughter and so would go gaga over this. Their favorite books are about space! And the aquarium looks amazing too!

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  4. I agree that learning can be fun and I imagine the kids were mega impressed. I don't think I would have been brave enough to do the bike but judging by the smiles it was a lot of fun

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  5. The bike experience is just amazing - I can only imagine how the kids felt riding over the lobby like that. Good for them to face their fear and go for it!

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  6. Looks like a great time. We had a high wire bike at the Seattle Science Center when I lived there. Kids just love learning in these environments.

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