Sunday, July 25, 2010

California Science Center

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, in fact, I currently live about 2 miles from the hospital I was born at. Everywhere I drive are memories of my childhood. But shockingly I had never been to the Coliseum or the California Science Center located at 700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037.

William is fascinated with all things flying right now. In fact, I believe he has appropriated Caskey's subscription to Model Airplanes. Unfortunately the Santa Monica Museum of Flying is currently being renovated so we needed to find an alternate outing for William's 4th birthday.

We settled on the aerospace wing of the California Science Center. After perusing the website it seemed like the perfect place to visit. Not only is the museum free, but it is centrally located and has several full size planes on display. The website also talked about tons of hands-on activities.

The aerospace wing is an entire 4-story building shared. Half of the building focuses on planes and aerodynamics the other half focuses on outer space. The bottom floor has about a dozen hands-on activities including a virtual hang gliding machine and an area to test the aerodynamics of different wings. The kids spent the majority of their time down there trying everything out.

[caption id="attachment_731" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Exploring the hands-on activities"]Exploring the hands-on activities[/caption]

The 3rd floor has a full size police helicopter that still has steering capability. Children were able to take turns inside pushing on levers and pedals. Not only was it tons of fun for kids, but it was a great photo opportunity.

[caption id="attachment_727" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="William flying the helicopter"]William flying the helicopter[/caption]

The wind tunnel was another favorite. Children could wear airplane wings and pretend to fly in the wind tunnel.

[caption id="attachment_729" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Connor really flying"]Connor really flying[/caption]

There were several computer modules set up where people can create their own planes or space craft and go on missions. On the space side there were models of the Hubble Telescope and a moon rover.

Unfortunately there were a lot of displays that were broken or not working properly, about 1/4 of them. In addition the elevator was out of order the day we visited. It didn't seem to bother the kids much, but as a pregnant lady I would have appreciated the elevator and a tad more seating. Our outing had 6 children ages seven through 1 year and it kept everyone busy for about 2 hours. We didn't rush, but we could have probably spent another hour there. But this pregnant lady was getting tired.

We intend to go back very soon. I love that it is free and there are several different sections including tons of hands-on displays. There are some special pay areas like the IMAX movies, the traveling exhibit (which is currently Mummies) and a climbing wall. The gift shop is large and and well-stocked, but I managed to stay out of it this time. There is also a McDonald's inside the museum in case you get hungry.

But it seems there are tons of other non-exhibit things to explore; a rose garden, pathways, a playground and of course the Coliseum. It would easily take a few days to see everything. But at $8/day for parking you don't want to spread it out too much.

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