Thursday, April 05, 2012

Exploring the California Science Center's 'Ecosystems'



In a way, there are now two versions of the California Science Center. There's the older half of the building, the "Creative World" section that was fresh in 1998 (when the completely redesigned center opened) but now feels a little dated and worn around the edges. And then there's the brand-new "Ecosystems" section that just recently opened and contains a massive aquarium. (Watch the California Science Center video above for more.)

California Science Center

We hadn't been to the California Science Center since the addition of the "Ecosystems" exhibit, so we decided to grab the kids and head over there a few weeks ago. The California Science Center remains free (hooray!) but with no real street parking close by, the lot costs around $10 (not-so-hooray!).

California Science Center

But here's the good news: "Ecosystems" is informative, well-organized and kid-friendly.

California Science Center

There's even a section all about Los Angeles (above).

California Science Center

Ecosystems is divided into eight "zones," all with interactive features: "Extreme Zone" (deserts, poles, the rocky shore and deep-sea vents), Forest Zone, River Zone, Island Zone, "Rot Room" (how rotting animals and plants help make the soil ready to support new life), Global Zone and L.A. Zone.

California Science Center

But the highlight of Ecosystems has to be the aquarium's mix of small sharks, big fish and manta rays. The Blogger Kid and Toddler 2.0 were mesmerized (above).

California Science Center

California Science Center

"Ecosystems" benefits, of course, from the timelessness of the subject, while "Creative World" is handicapped by constant technology evolution. When the California Science Center opened in 1998, the Internet as we know it was still an infant, cell phones were still a novelty (while smart phones didn't exist), Apple was in the dumps and hybrid cars weren't yet mainstream. Now, the "Creative World" exhibit still has plenty of relevant features, such as one on earthquakes; but many displays were broken, others were worn and some felt dated.

On the plus side, I never get tired of looking at old space capsules:

California Science Center

And Blogger Toddler 2.0 found plenty to like:

California Science Center

Also: the center's high-wire bike, as featured in our 2003 Amazing Race, remains popular.

California Science Center

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037

Located in Exposition Park at the corner of Figueroa Street and 39th Street, the California Science Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The IMAX Theater is open daily.

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