Posts Tagged ‘appropriate’

What Exploratorium

4 October 2011


Dear J-

Back in San Diego we sometimes go to the Reuben Fleet Science Center, which is okay as far as children’s science museums go: it’s got a fair number of neat hands-on demos and exhibits and there’s an ever-reliable room of fun where figgy can run around and go shoppinig with a little cart to her heart’s content. It’s definitely not an all-the-time sort of place but I thought that after going to the very good but very crowded Tech Museum of Discovery in San Jose last time we might as well try the very famous California Academy of Science in Ssan Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Bottom line: if your kid is expecting to participate, don’t bother.

I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed, as the old Exploratorium that I remember going to nearly twenty years ago had the kind of interactive exhibits I remember loving, between swirling clouds of mist and rippling fabrics, hand-crank generators demonstrating the relative efficiency of lightbulbs and (didn’t they? or am I just thinking of the Pacific Science Center?) the bike ride on a high rail demonstrating center of gravity. If that position has been usurped by San Jose then we spent way too much time and money today driving up to San Francisco and precious sanity besides: do you want to do this? No? Well, why are we here, anyways?

I admit I have a ready answer for that last question, though: because I wanted to go. I wanted to try it out, I wanted to see what it was about. I’d read glowing descriptions of how wonderful and enriching it was, and there is indeed some interesting stuff there but it’s really geared towards the above-four set: let’s say eight year old geeks or ten year old kids. We may be back later, when they’re better able to appreciate it, but not soon and not for lack of things to do in San Jose. That lesson’s pretty apparent: despite my love for the City there’s little that can’t be done down here more quickly and cheaply.