Today's New Activity: Visiting the Chabot Space & Science Center
which is in Oakland.
I was pretty excited to check this place out after reading online that admission (which is free for kids 3 and under. Score!) gets you tickets to one planetarium and one live action show. One of the live action show choices was about dinosaurs, and since Chupi's been showing interest in dinosaurs lately (he even holds out the plastic ones that came in his Easter basket and goes "Raaaarrhh!"), I thought he'd probably enjoy that show and might even sit still!
The drive up to the museum was beautiful. It's an observatory, so it was high up in the scenic Oakland hills, and it was the perfect day for that drive too. Crazy winds last night left the skies clear and cloud free.
We got there just in time to see the planetarium show, which was about two little kids who build a cardboard rocket that manages to take off and fly around the entire solar system in the course of a night. Pretty amazing feat.
They bring along a library book about astronomy, and this book happens to come with a talking professor, who broke it down for us about the planets, sun and moon.
I personally thought he was a little frightening, as was the trip to the sun:
but Monkey seemed to take it in stride. He got a little squirrelly toward the end, so we left about 40 minutes into the 45 minute show, but I thought that was a decent run for an 18-month old.
When Nicole and girls joined us, we went to the dinosaur show. I'm not sure why it was called live action, because it was just another dome movie (like IMAX), but it was pretty cool. Both munchkins did well there too, and to my shock neither one of them got scared when two giant, very realistic CGI dinosaurs began battling on screen. I think they may actually be too young to be scared by stuff like that yet. The show was mostly about archaeologists' discoveries with some recreations of what they speculate happened in the days of the dinosaurs.
Chupi and his little girlfriend Sureya (5 months older than him) took turns looking at each other and pointing to the screen throughout the show, as if trying to make sure each other was having the same amazing experience. It's so cute to see how they communicate with each other. Sureya is always saying "Chupi, Chupi," (she actually says this, his nickname. I'm not even sure if she knows his real name) and showing him things or sharing her food. I hope they will always be good friends like their Mamas are.
When that was done and we'd had lunch at the museum cafe, we went to a giant play room full of fun stations for the kids to have at. I'm pretty sure they would have been happy to stay in that room the whole time,
painting on rocks (I like to think he's drawing her a heart here),
playing with the computers,
and playing astronaut/gardener dress up.
The point is that they were playing, getting along and having a good time. What more could their Mamas want? Well I wanted to see the rest of the museum, so we dragged them out to take in more space-related exhibits, including a whole room about space travel. This was perfect because Chupi's Nana is always joking that the two of them are going to go to the moon together one day. It was nice he could get a look at what was in store for them.
For example, see this crazy little pod of a shuttle the Russians have used for 50 years to fling their cosmonauts back to space? (and I do mean fling...the three flight members who are squished into the capsule for the 2-3 day trip home have absolutely no control over where the craft lands, and it usually crashes into the earth).
The Russians have lost 46 cosmonauts through the years this way, and a docent at the museum was telling me that when the Space Shuttle program is officially retired this June, The USA will begin using similar pods for our astronauts' space travels. CRAZY!
So I'm guessing my Mom may want to rethink her space travel plans after she learns this little bit of trivia ;)
Upstairs was a giant room all about climate change (the theory of, anyway), which was very educational in showing kids how their actions affect the climate, etc. It was way over Monkey's head but good for the older children.
Though the museum didn't seem all that big, what I've discussed took the better part of the late morning through afternoon, and the kids were totally wiped out by the end of it...wiped out in the good, ready-for-nap time way that we parents love :)
Along with the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, which I've written about before, I highly recommend this one to parents of the little ones. There was enough there to keep the interest of the toddler-types, but there were a ton of great exhibits for girls Maya's age (8) and even older. It works well for the whole family.