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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tech Talk - Science & Technology Museums in the Bay Area

Given the Bay Area's hold on science and technology, it's not shocking that there are so many related museums in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most are outside the City, but if you’re a fan, you’ll get in your car and get there.

Lawrence Hall of Science (Centennial Drive, Berkeley): This monument to science sits atop the Berkeley Hills. You’ll drive through University of California at Berkeley’s campus and the football stadium, snaking uphill until you get to the top. Just try and keep the kids from climbing on the giant strand of DNA sculpture outside the museum, or off the slippery stone whale. Let them have their fun, though, so you can ogle the view of San Francisco (and check out the campus below). When you get inside, you'll find a hands-on biology lab, plus fun and interactive exhibits on planets, math, forces shaping the Bay, Kapla blocks, and more.

The Tech Museum of Innovation (201 South Market Street, San Jose): This downtown San Jose museum is a family favorite. Plus they have one day a month when you can get in for free! Whether watching the IMAX movie, riding a simulated bobsled, or creating your own robot movements, the adults will have just as much fun as the kids. The multi-story museum has plenty of up-to-date interactive exhibits that teach science and technology without boring anyone. Plus, their Star Trek exhibit runs through April 11th.

The Computer History Museum (1401 North Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View): This is a museum for die-hard computer fans (of which I am not). It was a little sad to see a version of the Merlin electronic game from youth in a glassed-in case (along with other fond memories like Atari Pong and a TRS-80 computer), but I guess that’s history. Look for them in the giant room full of displayed computer equipment. For non-computer enthusiasts, watch the film on computer chess games and how IBM’s Deep Blue beat chess-champion Gary Kasparov.

The Exploratorium (3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco): You can’t mention science museum without mentioning the Exploratorium. This warehouse structure at the Palace of Fine Arts makes up for what it lacks in ambiance with intriguing and entertaining exhibits on psychology, biology, sight, sound and more.

Photo: copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan - all rights reserved. Photo taken at the Exploratorium.

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