On our last day in California, Tyler, Noah, Mom, Dad, and I explored the Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum.
I had a good time at the museum. However, it was much more crowded than I would have liked. There were little kids everywhere, which is good because that’s the target audience, but it meant that I didn’t take my time with the exhibits when there was a crowd of kids waiting their turn (or in many cases not waiting their turn and messing up the exhibit while I was using it). Also, I felt bad taking up space, because to be honest, I knew what was going to happen in most of the exhibits and could easily explain the theory behind them. To the point that Tyler and I often did explain what was going on to curious children and their parents. Just because I understand what’s going on does not mean that I didn’t still enjoy the wonder that comes with playing. So, if we had gone a bit earlier, or not during holidays, I could have happily spent hours playing and exploring all the exhibits.
Despite the crowds, I did have some favorite experiments. I think my all time favorite was the large camera obscura on the roof. The lenses focused the nearby Bay Bridge on a table in a dark tent. It was pretty cool to see the cars moving along the Bay Bridge, without actually looking at the bridge itself. It was also pretty cool to see how well it was focused, because you could see fuzzy birds flying by on the table, since they weren’t at the same distance as the bridge.
There was a pretty cool window display that Tyler enjoyed a lot. There is a stained glass window of sorts, but rather than stained glass, the differences in what you were seeing were due to polarized sections of the window. Facing the window was a polarized wheel. As you spun the wheel, different parts of the window became dark and the polarized wheel became perpendicular to the polarized sections of the window.
Sometimes I forget that I’m a real life scientist. At one of the optics displays there were mirrors and lights, demonstrating that you can use mirrors to direct the beams of light, but the beams were so weak! Its funny because I get to work with lasers and direct the laser beams over larger distances and carefully aligned. Most of the time I forget that as a kid I always wanted to have a powerful enough light source that I could actually use mirrors and direct the light like I saw on TV all the time. Its pretty cool that I often get to “play” with lasers at work.
Overall I had a good day. I got to be nerdy and play, which is always pretty cool. I wish there was someplace like this closer to me, that way I could go play during off hours. Who knows, maybe I would wind up volunteering there! Ah well.
I had tons of fun during my time in California, but I was also very ready to be home. The next day, we flew out, ending our Christmas vacation. And thus, ending this California Trip Series!