One of the most wonderful characteristics of young children is their natural curiosity about everything and anything. And while it can be fun to concoct your own science experiments at home, you can also take your kids to a place that is dedicated to expanding their minds. All the prep work has been done for you. No need for you to capture that spider to see if it truly has eight legs. You can tell your kid to splash to her heart's content -- you are not going to be cleaning up the mess. For even more super-smart kid fun, here are some of the best places to take your curious child:
The California Science Center is a true gem in our community. Admission is free every day so it is a great place to take your kids whenever there is a school break. (Donations are welcome.) There are so many activities and exhibits to explore that it would take more than one day to do everything. Be sure to go through the Ecosystems. It is an interactive exhibit that teaches children about the Earth's ecosystems with touch tanks, real flash floods, and the LA Zone which highlights sustainable living. For kids seven and under, check out the three Discovery Rooms connected to Creative World, Ecosystems, or World of Life. You can also watch science-related IMAX movies for a fee. When hunger strikes, there are a few options available to you from McDonald's and Taco Bell Express, to the cafeteria-style Rose Garden Café. Even if you choose to bring your own lunch, be sure to enjoy the beautiful Rose Garden outside adjacent to the food court.
This iconic place is the scene of many Hollywood movies. When you come to this place, however, you are going to be awed by the celestial stars, not the movie stars (minus the cool bust of James Dean on the west side of the grounds). If there is ever a moment you are willing to overlook your child's bedtime, let it be when you visit the Griffith Observatory. There are some beautiful exhibits showing the history and progression of astronomy, and some rooms where you will feel like you are in outer space. Just as cool, are the tools accessible to the public to get an amazing view of the night sky. A fun summer activity would be to read through Find the Constellations by H.A Rey with your kids and then head to the Observatory in the evening to see these constellations with their own eyes.
The giant cube in front of the building is a tell-tale sign that the kids will have an enormous amount of fun inside. From the moment you walk in the door, you understand that the cost of admission is a worthy investment to this non-profit organization. Almost everything can be touched, manipulated and explored to expand your child's understanding of math and science. Make an impression on the pinwall, see an exact replica of a T-rex, or press the launch button of a real rocket booster engine. There are endless amounts of things to do. The Discovery Science Center's website is updated daily with field trip information so you can see if the center is going to be packed with local school kids. You can also buy discounted adult tickets online through their website.
Kidspace Children's Museum is the perfect place for, well, kids! Geared toward one- to nine-year-olds, this place is great for the really young. The Early Childhood Learning Center is a room for toddlers who are just beginning to explore. The equipment in this room is like a padded playground. Every day at 12pm and 3pm there is a fun "mommy and me" style music class which is included with admission. Even though there is so much more to do inside such as exploring the Digging Deeper Gallery, another treasure of this museum is the outdoor space-over two acres of adventures just waiting for your children. Be sure to bring a change of clothes. Your kids will want to get wet in the Interpretive Arroyo or at the Splash Dance Fountain. On hot days you might even find yourself running through the water features. But never fear-this museum is also great for the young at heart.
Upon first glance, the Skirball Cultural Center may not appear to be a place to take your energetic child. Once you enter the Noah's Ark exhibit, all your fears will dissipate. Noah's Ark is an fantastic place for your child to run around while learning about being part of a community. Just outside of the wooden structure is an interactive area for children to "conduct a storm" or manipulate imaginatively constructed animals. Inside the ark are all sorts of activities for children from building the ark or loading the animal. Most of the activities within this exhibit require teamwork which makes it a really cool learning experience. Even though there is not a separate fee to enter the Noah's Ark exhibit, you do need to reserve a separate timed-entry ticket. It is recommended you do this prior to your visit to ensure admission to Noah's Ark. Once you are done exploring Noah's Ark, head up to the interactive Dig It! archeological exhibit. There is also a fun drop-in art studio open just for the summer. The Skirball also hosts shows geared toward the whole family in the outdoor amphitheater. Be sure to check the website for the schedule of each of these programs.
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