Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Veritable Smorgasbord

Today's adventure took us to the SF Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum for kids.  I've been looking forward to this one.

Once again, this was our view from our parking spot.
 What kind of over-abundance of perfect views does a city have to have for people to think that this is a good spot to put a parking lot?

This activity was done on free day.  I don't want to be cheap, but we want to see a lifetime's worth of this city in a few short months, so we have to cut where we can, right?  I figured there would be a lot of little kids there, but at least the older kids would be in school.  Wrong-o!  The older kids arrived by the bus load on field trips.

Enough about the crowds, I want to tell you about the exhibits!  This museum reminded me of the Louvre, if you'll believe that.  You just can't see it all in one day.  It kept going and going and each station was so worthy of pause and ponder.  I love my little guys, but I really would enjoy taking just Bethelle here and camping for a couple weeks.  With the young'uns in tow, I just couldn't explain everything thoroughly, but she did read some of the explanations when I was busy.

Loved the station pictured below.  Rotating the drum behind the guitar strings created a strobe-like effect without the flashing lights.  The waves of the strings were clearly visible.  Stepping on the pedal at the bottom tightened the strings and changed the waves.
 At the water drop photography station, you adjust the time between a drop falling and a camera taking a picture of the drop to catch it in midair or to see how the surface of the pool below moves with the impact.  There was a large monitor to view your image.  The kids really got into that one.
 Most of the stations were over their heads, especially Rigby's and Curie's, but they did have this child-friendly pattern making station.
 And check out the gravity-powered square root calculator!  It works!
 Bethelle built an arch and then lifted the surface ninety degrees to see it stand on its own.  Who needs tape?
 Did I mention that Holly and Charlotte (and their friends) came?  Here, Holly is "playing" a musical bench by touching a contact on one arm.  The little girl then touched the contact on the other arm, and music played when they held hands.  I'd like to have a bench like this in my home.  Seriously!
 This little beauty is a Theremin.  Moving your hand close to the rod on the right creates a pitch which gets higher as your hand gets closer.  Think slide trombone.  Moving your other hand closer and farther from the loop on the left changes the volume.  Now imagine me working out Mary Had a Little Lamb.  Good times.
 I've detailed very, very few of the hands-on exhibits there.  What a wonderful place.  Oh, and I discovered my dream job.  From the displays, there are windows looking in on the design labs and shops where they create new exhibits.  Playing all day and getting paid for it!?  Isn't that what all workers are looking for?
The Exploratorium is adjacent to a venue called the Palace of Fine Arts.  I heard it was built as a tear-down for a world fair, but the town just couldn't part with it.
What part of this says tear-down to you?
 The sprawling columns wrap around one long side of a large pond and gardens.
Today was the third birthday of my visiting niece, Charlotte.  I was looking forward to talking everyone to Beard Papa's, a local cream puff kitchen.  The timing didn't work out and they headed home, but Nick decided that today being Wednesday was a good enough excuse for cream puffs.
We're living the good life here in San Francisco!

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