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Susan Rambo
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What's your favorite kid-friendly science museum?
Susan Rambo   7/30/2014 5:32:30 PM
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Do you have a favorite kid-friendly science museum? Post your suggestion here in the comments section.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: What's your favorite kid-friendly science museum?
MeasurementBlues   7/30/2014 10:28:21 PM
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See Still a cool science museum from my visit to the Exploratorium in 2006.

Sheepdoll
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Re: What's your favorite kid-friendly science museum?
Sheepdoll   7/30/2014 10:45:03 PM
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I loved the Explorotorium in the early 1970s.  They had a show with a bunch of early space stuff like Goddard's rocket, just stuffed into an alcove.  I think one of the mercury capsules was there.  I am told that the old man who ran the place back then was Frank Oppenheimer. There were lots of laser and holographic exhibits.

Went there as an adult to a corporate party. Found it lacking.  Went back a month later when the kids were there.  This place was made for kids, without them it is nothing.

Also visited Lawrence Hall of science a few times. Went there for an eclipse viewing that was out over the pacific. Again the place was full of kids.  Also had a corporate party there for a company I was working for.  They had the meat hors d'oeuvres in the "wolf" room which was a collection of carnivores.  I did manage to find some stuff I recognized from an old textbook on programming, regarding atomic simulation.  Was fun that I knew what it was.


We also locally had the "aquarium."  Have not been there since they disneyfied it. This museum had endowed to it one of the finest collections of clocks and watches, not on public display.  These items are now on permanent loan to the National clock and watch museum in Pennsylvania. It is sad when industrial engineering has no place in a "Natural History" Museum. That no one cares about the history of watch design and the "successful failures" that lasted generations.

Sheetal.Pandey
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Re: What's your favorite kid-friendly science museum?
Sheetal.Pandey   7/31/2014 3:03:41 AM
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Quite agree these kids museums are just so engaging for kids as well as adults. In Canada, the nature musem in Ottawa is just so wonderful. No matter how many times you go, you would not mind if have to another time. Science musems are also equally exciting in SanJose, SFO and so on. The science muesems or museums as such must be encouraged. But it should be maintained well. In US and Canada they are so well maintained.

junko.yoshida
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Re: What's your favorite kid-friendly science museum?
junko.yoshida   7/31/2014 3:59:10 AM
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@Sheetal, thank you for chiming in! Could you give us the specifics (URL) of the nature museum in Ottawa you referred in your comment? We'd love to visit!

junko.yoshida
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Re: What's your favorite kid-friendly science museum?
junko.yoshida   7/31/2014 4:07:59 AM
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@sheepdoll, you wrote: "This place was made for kids, without them it's nothing." True, unless adults get into the spirit of diving into things, like kids, and trying out everything with their own hands!

junko.yoshida
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Re: What's your favorite kid-friendly science museum?
junko.yoshida   7/31/2014 4:17:07 AM
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I was in fact very impressed when I talked to the director of Madison Children's Museum. I had been to the museum before but in preparing for this story, I wanted to double check on a few things. The museum director came out for the interview, and she told me, in a brief sentence, what I consider the essence of science and engineering: "experiments, patience and persistence." Since none of the objects on display at this museum comes with an instruction set, you need to figure it out by tinkering and fooling around with it -- as with anything "in real life," she said. Well put.

Astronut0
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Re: What's your favorite kid-friendly science museum?
Astronut0   7/31/2014 11:35:10 AM
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Chicago's Adler Planetarium has undergone a massive renewal, and is now one of the kid-friendliest places around.  All the cool old stuff is still there, but the new interactive exhibits are wonderful.  My husband and I went there very early one day, before all the kids arrived, and we had a blast!

junko.yoshida
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Re: What's your favorite kid-friendly science museum?
junko.yoshida   7/31/2014 11:38:42 AM
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@Astronut0, great to hear that! Because I think one of our editors actually recently visited there and we will be rolling out a special slideshow on that one soon, according to my well-placed sources.

anon9303122
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Re: What's your favorite kid-friendly science museum?
anon9303122   8/5/2014 11:52:05 AM
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I grew up in the Boston area so the Museum of Science was always a fun trip. All of my children loved going there as well so I know it isn't just a geek thing (me).Not far from MIT on the Charles "Dirty Water" River. Multiple trips are recommended as there is so much take in.

rickdoherty
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Children's Science Museums
rickdoherty   7/31/2014 9:42:06 AM
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There can be no on great museum! Individually and collectively, it is wonderful that there have never been so many excellent showcases for the magic, wonder and real-world applicability of science and technology as we enjoy today. Notable examples are the Boston Science Museum, The Ontario Science Center, The NY Hall of Science (at the site of the Old NY World's Fair), Brooklyn Children's Museum, Long Island's Cradle of Aviation Museum, The NY Museum of Natural History (a century-old education palace!), the Chicago Museum of Science, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, the new Detroit Science Center, The Smithsonians in D.C., San Diego Science Museum, San Jose's Children's Discovery Museum and The Tech Museum of Innovation, The Computer History Museum, San Francisco's Exploratorium, Seattle's Pacific Science Center, The Seattle Aviation Museum at Boeing Field.

And in Shanghai, PRC, The Shanghai Science and technology Museum perhaps offers the finest  balanced mix of Western and emergining eastern Science & Technology, with more exhibits encouraging kids to enjoy a place in the parade of progress that all other science museum directors would do well to take note!

The good news is that almost everyone in North America is within driving range of the finest children - and family - science centers in the world!

I confess, whenever I visit one of these museums, with my own (grown) daughters, or other children in tow, I feel like a kid again! Freshly reminded of the wonders and discovery that lay before me as a child, and still beckon to me as an adult.

 

junko.yoshida
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Re: Children's Science Museums
junko.yoshida   7/31/2014 10:08:27 AM
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Hi, Rick. Ah, what a wonderful list! Thanks. We overed some you mentioned in your comment here, but we knew we were missing some big ones.

I know exactly what you mean by "I feel like a kid again!" That's how I felt last week when I was at Madison Children's Museum and it was a sheer pleasure! 

wilber_xbox
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Re: Children's Science Museums
wilber_xbox   7/31/2014 2:58:39 PM
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@Rickdoherty, this is a great list of museums in US. Thanks for sharing.

docdivakar
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Re: Kid-Friendly Science Museums...
docdivakar   7/31/2014 11:05:40 AM
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@Rick: great list. I have been to many of these and have membership in CHM. I never get bored to revisit any of these museums.

MP Divakar

wilber_xbox
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Re: Kid-Friendly Science Museums...
wilber_xbox   7/31/2014 2:56:52 PM
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I still remember my trip to Science museum quite a while ago as the experiments on display were no less than pure magic. Things like pendulum balls, tube water oscillation, bubble traps were just amazing.

junko.yoshida
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Funding issues
junko.yoshida   7/31/2014 9:04:02 PM
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@wilber, I can feel your excitement, as you metion " pendulum balls, tube water oscillation, bubble traps were just amazing." I am totally with you.

One of the things I noticed, though, is that as much as we all love those museums, most of them are struggling to raise funds.

As with anything, funding is critical...many look for partnerships with universities, corporate sponsorships and even working with the local "Makers' moevement." I wish we could do more. 

kfield
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Re: Kid-Friendly Science Museums...
kfield   7/31/2014 4:06:04 PM
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@docdivakar "I have been to many of these and have membership in CHM. I never get bored to revisit any of these museums."

Agreed! I went to the MIT Museum to report on this aritcle, intending to just pop in, and wound up spending a couple of hours!!!

docdivakar
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Re: Kid-Friendly Science Museums...
docdivakar   7/31/2014 5:06:48 PM
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@Kfield: I didn't realize you are one of the contributors to this story, thanks for good work!

Ditto on campus science museums, I have been to Lawrence Berkeley museum on the hilltop about 5 times now; the view of the SF bay is unparalleled, an added perk to visit the museum:

www.lawrencehallofscience.org

MP Divakar

Susan Rambo
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Re: Kid-Friendly Science Museums...
Susan Rambo   7/31/2014 7:39:20 PM
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Lawrence Hall of Science gets my vote, too. I used to go there as a kid. Definitely beautiful up there. When I was a kid, we'd see the planterium show. I'm not sure if they still have that.

Jessica Lipsky
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Re: Kid-Friendly Science Museums...
Jessica Lipsky   8/1/2014 10:30:22 AM
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I went there growing up too (East Bay kid tradition) and I remember climbing all over a life sized replica of a whale outside the museum entrance. I don't know if they still have the planetarium, but I know Chabot Space and Science Center does (and they have a lazer light show set to music!).

kfield
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Re: Kid-Friendly Science Museums...
kfield   8/1/2014 10:37:03 AM
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@docdivakar "I have been to Lawrence Berkeley museum on the hilltop about 5 times now"

Thanks for the tip! I'll have to check it out the next time I'm in San Francisco. Maybe we can grab a coffee?  I always love to meet up with our community members when possible!

docdivakar
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Re: Kid-Friendly Science Museums...
docdivakar   8/1/2014 2:32:08 PM
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@Kfield: yes for Coffee... You can ping me at my EETimes ID at GTalk or email at Gmail.com or Yahoo.com.

MP Divakar

Susan Rambo
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Re: Kid-Friendly Science Museums...
Susan Rambo   7/31/2014 7:40:29 PM
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Hi Karen, next time I'm in Boston, I'd like to check out MIT Museum (hint, hint).

kfield
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Re: Kid-Friendly Science Museums...
kfield   8/1/2014 10:35:10 AM
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@susanRambo "Hi Karen, next time I'm in Boston, I'd like to check out MIT Museum (hint, hint)."

It's a date!!

junko.yoshida
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Chabot Space Science Center
junko.yoshida   7/31/2014 11:35:56 AM
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@Susan, this is absolutely a gem! I lived in the Bay Area for almost 10 years, and I never knew about this place! Besides the story about the city of Oakland used keep their own time is such an interesting piece of history! Next time when I come back to the area, I am definitely going there!

KB6NU
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Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
KB6NU   7/31/2014 2:36:46 PM
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One fine museum that you missed is the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (www.aahom.org). Both kids and adults love it. I'm partial to it because I am the station manager for the museum's amateur radio station, WA2HOM.

73, Dan KB6NU

Navelpluis
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Not a playground...
Navelpluis   8/1/2014 2:57:29 AM
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I don't want to be a game breaker, nor swallow too much serious pills here. But important for a museum is not to turn their place into a children's playground. That's not their task. With a bit of tears in my eyes I saw a couple of nice Dutch museums local here convert to such places. All technology ls stocked away into depots and they basically do not display much of the original technology backgrounds. "Kids find this boring", they say. But then I say: "Gleu a Mac Donalds aside the museum and let them play there!"

For people older than 16 there basically is not much to see. No real background, it is a playground. Really interesting items are hanging on the wall, high up, without sufficient interesting background. For a techie like me -at least- I recognize lots of things, but for most people it is 'abra cadabra'.

 

Am I child-unfriendly? No, not at all. I think that one of the main problems is to learn children to focus on one subject for longer than 5 seconds. *That* is what we should learn children first. The result will be that the museum does not *need* conversion to a playground: You can learn the child and you can learn yourself. And as soon as they get tired: Let them go to the Mac Donalds playground, leave one of the parents behind and dive back into the museum to swim & swallow into their beatiful technology ;-)

 

Jessica Lipsky
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Other NYC museums
Jessica Lipsky   8/1/2014 10:36:32 AM
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If you're hanging around the 5 boroughs, check out:

 

The Intrepid Museum

The Skyscraper Museum

Sony Wonder Technology Lab (only open until Sept. 2014)

Museum of Natural History

There's a lot of science to be had in plants - The Bronx and Brooklyn botanical gardens are great!

Jessica Lipsky
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Bay Area Museums
Jessica Lipsky   8/1/2014 10:44:24 AM
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Great picks! Once you've stopped at The Exploratorium, Chabot Space Center, and Lawernce Lab, don't forget The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco! This place is part natural history museum, part aquarium (Steinhardt relocated here), part butterfly sanctuary, and earthquake laboratory. There are themed adult nights every Thursday, too. 

TonyTib
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Re: Bay Area Museums
TonyTib   8/1/2014 11:28:15 AM
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One big item nobody has talked about: cost.  The only semi-affordable way to go to many of the top attractions is to get a family pass.


Let's look at the cost for a family with 2 elementary school children:

Cal Academy Of Sciences  $120  (family membership $200)

Monterey Bay Aquarium    $130 (family membership $195)

Children's Discovery Museum SJ $48 (family membership $120)

Exploratorium                 $96 (family membership $150)

And for San Francisco, add in the cost of getting there (gas + parking or BART+Muni/Bus; at least the CDM has cheap $5 parking nearby).


BTW, both the Exploratorium and Cal Academy had new makeovers (or new location), and IIRC, each one cost at least $500 million.


We do family memberships, but only one or two a year (this year: Cal Academy + Oakland Zoo, which offered us a great price).  But since we're already paying for these memberships, and find it hard to get there enough times anyway (my goal is at least 4 visits during the membership), we're not going anywhere else (so no CDM, Aquarium, or Exploratorium this year).


Final note: the Lawrence Hall of Science is cool (my son went to a birthday party there), but it's a pain to get there if you haven't been there before.

Sheepdoll
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Re: Bay Area Museums
Sheepdoll   8/1/2014 3:24:57 PM
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TonyTib - One big item nobody has talked about: cost.

The San Francisco Museums used to have a "free" day once a month.  As I remember it was the first Wednesday of the month.  The idea was for local and regional residence to see what a wonderful place these were.  It was also a way to get in the under represented folk  who might benefit from the experience.

Usually the places would be packed with kids on field trips these days.

I find it interesting that these replies mostly focus on the greater San Francisco Bay Area museums. I had the opportunity to travel in the 1990s (and get into the back rooms and basements of some great European Museums.)  Some standouts were the Deuches Museum in Munich, The British Museum, Victorian and Albert Collection, London Science Museum. All seemed to have kid friendly programs and exhibits.

Little known are the London Guildhall museum. While it took a direct hit in WWII most of the library and collections have been re-created. A lot of what is shown are the masterpieces from the guilds as well as models the apprentices made to show how things worked.

Das Museum für Musikautomaten Seewen in Switzerland, was one of the highlights of my trip in the 1990s a friend just got back from visiting it a few weeks ago and could not stop talking about it.

There is a Museum dedicated to mechanical Music also in Utrecht. They had workshops were the restorations can be seen.

My impression is that all of these have programs and days where they do outreach to the community. Planning a trip to coincide with one of these days only helps to heighten the experience.  I got to have dinner and stay for a whole evening in the Victoria and Albert collection.

It is also possible to get to know the staff and curators. This can open many doors which would not otherwise be available. These people know that without educational outreach there will be no further endowments. There are many opportunities for mentoring here.  I myself was mentored by people with connections to museum staffs.  Why I went on these trips in the 1990s with folk twice my age.  So I could learn from them before it was too late.



TonyTib
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Re: Bay Area Museums
TonyTib   8/1/2014 3:59:30 PM
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I believe the Cal Academy's free Weds were sponsered by a bank (Wells Fargo?)

Bank of America offers free admittance to some museums (such as the Tech IIRC) if you're a cardholder.

And, yes, the Deutsches Musuem in Munich is pretty kid friendly.

junko.yoshida
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Re: Bay Area Museums
junko.yoshida   8/4/2014 5:19:26 PM
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@TonyTib, oh, we love Deutches Museum in Munich! Every time when I used to cover Electronica in Munich, I secretely plotted my travel plan so that i could set aside a weekend to go to Deutishes Museum (and Christmas Market at Marienplatz)!

krisi
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Re: Bay Area Museums
krisi   8/1/2014 3:34:52 PM
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would you expect the taxpayer to pay for your admission Tony? or are you saying that museum employees make too much money?

TonyTib
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Re: Bay Area Museums
TonyTib   8/1/2014 4:06:02 PM
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It's nice to know money isn't a problem for you, but for most of us those admissions price are substantial chunk of change, and not very kid friendly (especially since kids get tired pretty quickly: my rule is 2-3 hours max, so 2 visits of 3 hours is much better than 1 visit of 6 hours)


I frankly don't care what they charge, but it affects my decisions.  That's why I haven't been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in over a decade (it's nice, but overrated, and not worth it - for the same price I'd rather go to the Cal Academy).  So if they want fewer people to visit, fine.

krisi
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Re: Bay Area Museums
krisi   8/1/2014 4:27:43 PM
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It doesn't really matter whether I can afford museum trips or not...ultimately the money has to come from somewhere...it is either

i) government paying for it (higher general taxation)

ii) corporate sponsorship

iii) lower operating costs (too high executive compensation?)

iv) users fees

all I am saying it is not enough to say the fees are too high, you have to point where the funding will come from instead

_hm
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Re: Bay Area Museums
_hm   8/3/2014 6:18:18 AM
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It need not be huge museum. What is required is small Community Science Center with equally active and creative curator.

Weekly (weekend( small workshop with hands-on approach is more effective. The theme and display articles can be elf created or can be moved around chain of these types of center around country. It may need more volunteers.

junko.yoshida
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Re: Bay Area Museums
junko.yoshida   8/4/2014 5:25:56 PM
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Make no mistake, I agree with you, TonyTib, the addmission fee does affect visitors' decision. 

I confess, I did, in fact, a flinch a little when I found out that it was $7.95 per person -- for adults & children, especially because I had two kids with me to visit the museum.

But knowing most museums are constantly fighting with the funding issue, I am at least more inclined to support the local museums through memberships. As a citizen, that's at least I can do! 

TonyTib
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Re: Bay Area Museums
TonyTib   8/4/2014 7:09:56 PM
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$7.95 per ticket? That's a bargain!  Of course, I'm in the super-rich, super-expensive Bay Area, but consider this:  if I make 4 trips to the Cal Academy on my pass, I'm still paying more per trip ($50 per visit).

There are some affordable places; for example, Palo Alto has a small museum and zoo (with some smaller animals and a some hands-on stuff) that's based on donations (free, but they recommend a donation -- and I've donated both times I visited).


Around here, the more expensive places tend to have less reciprocity.  For example, with my Oakland Zoo membership, I get half off to the SF Zoo, Happy Hollow Zoo and Park (mini-zoo + kids rides + cool playgrounds), and Aquarium of the Bay, but no discount to the Monterey Bay Aquarium or Cal Academy -- or IIRC, the SJ CDM.

tb100
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Re: Bay Area Museums
tb100   8/4/2014 8:30:29 PM
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" (especially since kids get tired pretty quickly: my rule is 2-3 hours max, so 2 visits of 3 hours is much better than 1 visit of 6 hours)"

I used to do what my Father did with me, try to drag my kids through the whole museum "we have to go here, we haven't seen this section yet" and my kids were indeed exhausted after a couple of hours. But they weren't exhausted with the museum--they were exhausted with me.

Then I figured out this trick.  I would let them lead the way, and more importantly, stay at any exhibit as long as they wanted. This works at hands on museums like the Exploritorium. I ended up being the frustrated one when I'd enter a large museum, then they'd want to spend one hour playing with the magnets then another hour playing with the beach ball above the air blower. We'd end up spending hours seeing only three things in a museum filled with hundreds of exhibits, and they'd have the time of their lives, but I'd be as frustrated as heck, until I learned to relax and let them have fun.

dgreigml1
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For those in the UK
dgreigml1   8/4/2014 6:44:39 AM
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http://www.gla.ac.uk/hunterian/

The Huntarian is resplendent.

Inspirational for a kid, a bit like a 4 year old waking up on Christmas morn and finding a mega Meccano set under the bed.

Free admission as well, even parking is free.

krisi
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Re: For those in the UK
krisi   8/4/2014 11:10:57 AM
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Free to attend...so who pays for it? government? (nothing wrong with it, just curious)

Paul Glaubitz
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Three random comments
Paul Glaubitz   8/4/2014 11:34:35 AM
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Way to reduce the cost:

If you are likely to go to several science based museums (especially if there is one local to you) consider getting a membership to one of them. Many offer discounts to members of related museums.

 

City Museum:

I can attest to the appeal to kids of all ages for this one. A few years ago I went to the City Museum while in St.Louis for the FIRST World Championship (Robotics competition). Our group had 3rd through 11th graders. They all put it at the top of their list for favorite part of the trip outside the competition. It is a bit more playground than many museums, but some experiences are best when you get your hands dirty...

 

COSI (Columbus, OH)

I gotta put a plug in for the one near me. If you are in Central Ohio COSI is worth checking out.

junko.yoshida
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Re: Three random comments
junko.yoshida   8/4/2014 5:15:48 PM
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@Paul, COSI looks like fun! Thanks for the recommendation. So, COSI stands for  Ohio's "Center of Science and Industry." I see. 

dgreigml1
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Re: For those in the UK
dgreigml1   8/6/2014 1:00:52 PM
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Since it is part of Glasgow Uni, which is funded by government, which is funded by taxation, then we all pay for it.

University/college/school courses are also "free" for Scots, as are medications.


The strange thing is that up until around WW1 it was the other way around.

The high standard of education (Finland also) from the 17th to 20th century was due to Church Hall tutorial teaching. Grammer schools were fee paying which would have precluded access  for most.

That education enabled the industrial revolution in Scotland, for example iron and steelmaking and shipbuilding.

Bit of a sorry remnant left nowadays.

Anyhow, back to the lateral mosfet and valve amplifier projects!

 

krisi
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Re: For those in the UK
krisi   8/6/2014 1:29:41 PM
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I think that model makes sense...the government/state needs to encourage education...although the flip side is that if all people get university degrees who will clean up the streets?

dgreigml1
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Re: For those in the UK
dgreigml1   8/8/2014 1:21:15 PM
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In my day, 34 years ago, only about 5% went to Uni.

Straight A's in 4 or 5 subjects required.

Nowadays I would be lost, a half day exam was easy peasy, but the essay and assignment curricula system now in place now would have flummoxed me, given the dummied down assessments.

I started with a year of theoretical physics (tutorials were fun), but then the creative streak clicked in and switched on back to electronics (childhood hobby).

I pity the majority that now seem to go to colleges and uni, and respect those in trades, they make at least as much dosh as an engineer and certainly more than a scientist. Heck I supported myself by working as a steelworks bricky during summer and winter holidays, tax free £746 per week.

I knew an Astrophysics graduate that swept streets, we shared the same the same cottage back then.

Welcome to Scotland, "wish you were lovely, weather is here"!

 Something has to change for survival, obvious, but I ain't the kid on the block that can make that happen.

junko.yoshida
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Re: For those in the UK
junko.yoshida   8/4/2014 5:11:07 PM
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Thanks, dgreigml1! So this is a part of the Univ. of Glasgow...sounds great.

Yes, we welcome the international list -- because after all we do travel globally!

dgreigml1
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Re: For those in the UK
dgreigml1   8/8/2014 2:10:08 PM
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Dear Junko,

The Huntarian is worth a look, as is the zoology section (you will need to pre-arrange a pass for that because there are bell jars with the smallest thingy and largest what's it).

The Uni is top rate and the spin off start ups are all interesting.

Even companies such as http://www.clyde-space.com/ (cube sat stuff) and http://www.gassensing.co.uk/ are close by. And http://optos.com/en-gb/ is worth a look – 200 degree retinal imaging and a very large and marked improvement in diagnosis of the retina.

Regards...

KurtShuler
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Aviation and Space Museums for Kids
KurtShuler   8/5/2014 1:40:18 PM
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Two years ago, my 3-year old son pointed at the prop of a B-24 sitting on the tarmac at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley and said, "Propeller". Then, "wings" as he pointed at them. Then he worked through all the parts: Tail, cockpit and landing gear.

I knew then that he was his father's son!

Here's my favorite aviation and space museums for kids that have not already been mentioned. They are in no particular order.

mateo in spacesuit

I hope this helps you all for your next vacation!

Kurt

TonyTib
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STEM Sports
TonyTib   8/6/2014 11:44:20 AM
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The 49er's museum at their new palace (AKA Levi's Stadium) will also include a hands-on STEM education area.  At a glance, looks like it's going to be reserved for class field trips at first (and mayber 49er ticket holders?), but the price is right: free.



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This collection of places from technology history, museums, and modern marvels is a roadmap for an engineering adventure that will take you around the world. Here are just a few spots ...

Glen Chenier

Engineers Solve Analog/Digital Problem, Invent Creative Expletives
Glen Chenier
15 comments
- An analog engineer and a digital engineer join forces, use their respective skills, and pull a few bunnies out of a hat to troubleshoot a system with which they are completely ...

Larry Desjardin

Engineers Should Study Finance: 5 Reasons Why
Larry Desjardin
46 comments
I'm a big proponent of engineers learning financial basics. Why? Because engineers are making decisions all the time, in multiple ways. Having a good financial understanding guides these ...

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