Friday, April 22, 2016

{Bay Area Kids Fun}: Lawrence Hall of Science

Here is where I normally have some super long introduction babbling on about stuff that has nothing to do with the post I am sharing. However I am really trying to work on being more direct (and short) with my writing, so lets just get into it. 
Here is my latest Bay Area Kids Fun post!

Mark tagged along with us this time and we spent close to 5 hours here exploring all of the ins-and-outs of this museum. Science museums are great for the whole family because there are ways for all ages to participate. Even Mark and I learned some new stuff and had some fun. For me though, the absolute best part of the experience was the view. All of the most beautiful parts of the Bay can be seen from this museum.

The first two attractions you will find are outside. Kids (and adults) can climb, slide, and crawl across Pheena the Fin Whale and thelife-size DNA structure.

I need to preface the rest of this review by saying that this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything that this museum has to offer. We would both be here for hours. I will be sharing our favorite parts and what I think sets this science museum apart from the rest. For a full list of the exhibits, go here.

We started in the front room upstairs. We've seen these pin-walls before, and they are always a big hit with Myles. It's pretty neat how well face shapes come out. Anytime I tried to do my face, Myles had to put his hand through it (typical threeager).

We also had to check out the Keva planks. I was totally amazed by what others guests had made with the blocks. What was amazing to Myles was the opportunity to destroy everything that was made. 

Next we headed downstairs. This is where all of the classrooms are located. During limited weekend hours you can get up close and personal with some insects, reptiles, and small mammals in the Backyard Zoo and Animal Discovery Room. The first thing we checked out was the Ingenuity Lab. Here you can design, build, and test inventions based on challenges the museum creates. The theme changes every couple months.
Myles helped Mark build a race car. 

Then we gave the Linkages and Moving Toys challenge a try. It was a little above Myles, but he was able to learn how it worked by looking at some that were already made.
And we had to throw in a little fun:

The other exhibit we looked at downstairs was the prehistoric animals bones. They have a triceratops skull still in the rock and a full mastodon skeleton cast that was found on Mt. Diablo.

After that we ended up in the cafe at the perfect time for a break and snack. The cafe has a full wall of windows looking out over the Bay. I couldn't get over eating with this view.

When we were done eating, he headed back upstairs. We spent several hours exploring all the exhibits on the main floors. There is so much to see and do in these areas, so I am just sharing a couple of our highlights.

Myles is still all about balls, so he loved the Energy Tracks. They have 5 different types of tracks set-up to help test the velocity of balls. This is supposed to simulate roller coasters and how they work in regards to speed. 

At Fold and Fly, you get to make your own paper airplane and then fly them with the help of mechanical airplane launchers. This was my second favorite exhibit of the whole museum. I had never seen a mechanical launcher before and it was awesome. They even have a little course set-up for the planes to fly through.

My number one favorite exhibit here is the Stop-Motion Stories. It was so fascinating to be able to see how stop-motion movies actually get made. And let me tell you, it takes a ridiculous amount of time and effort! Our movie was only about 18 seconds long, but took us at least 20 minutes to make. We were both pretty proud of what we accomplished though and I loved that Myles and I were able to work together to make something we both enjoyed.

We couldn't do anything too elaborate because Myles' attention span is still a bit short, but here is the video we made (his ideas, my computer work):

The last thing we did was go outside. Myles could have spent another couple of hours just in the outdoor area, but we were running low on time. When we go back, I think I will start outside first, because I know he didn't get to do as much as he wanted this day. I also really enjoyed all that was set-up outside, and of course, the VIEW!

We lucked out on a gorgeous day and Myles was able to play outside without being too cold. He was really into the water feature in the Forces that Shape the Bay exhibit. He used plastic water blockers to change the flow of water (simulating the Sierra Nevada) and learned about how we can influence the path(s) of water .

Myles, of course, was most intrigued by all the dead worms in the pond. He made it his mission to pick one up with a stick so he could see if it was really dead. 

Adults: $12
Children 3–18, Seniors 62+ $10
Under 3: free
This will come as no surprise, the view! 
I love their outdoor exhibits; get the kids learning outside and you are a winner in my book!
They have some great ageless exhibits (stop-motion movie making) that the whole family can participate in and truly enjoy. 
The amount/variety of exhibits is outstanding; we were there for 5 hours and could have stayed longer. Myles was very engaged throughout the whole experience. 

Some of the classroom exhibits (with animals) have limited weekend only hours.

Otherwise, I honestly can't think of anything else. We went on a day that was not busy at all, so even the parking was fine. I imagine on a busier day that parking might be an issue, but that's pretty common in the city areas. I would also bring a lunch next time. The food in the cafe was good, but we could have saved money by bringing our own.

Overall review:  

We will definitely be going back and spending a lot more time outside. It's a great place for the whole family to spend a day together, having fun and learning. And, the view  beats out any other museum in the area!

Bay Area Kids Fun Posts:
Children's Creativity Museum
Children's Natural History Museum
Children's Fairyland
 Lawrence Hall of Science
Sonoma County Children's Museum


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