One of the greatest joys of homeschooling is our flexible schedule. Because we are not tied to a school schedule, we are free to join the kids’ father when he has conferences and work out of town. Recently, a business meeting brought him to Oakland and we tagged along. This not only ensures we get to spend quality time together – but it also allows us to explore new areas that we may not otherwise get to see.
On this trip, we ventured off the freeway via the local streets to take in the container ship port (from afar) and Chinatown. After San Francisco, Oakland’s Chinatown is relatively small but we were able to browse several markets and bring home a box of moon cakes for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival.
Lawrence Hall of Science
Thereafter, we drove up to the Berkeley campus to explore the Lawrence Hall of Science. The Lawrence Hall of Science is UC Berkeley’s public science center. It has been providing parents, kids, and educators with opportunities to engage with science since 1968. Read on to discover a sampling of the science activities in which we were engaged.
Design, Build and Test
Numerous exhibits allowed us to explore the science of engineering and solve real-world challenges. Here are just a few of the activities we enjoyed:
- Create our own flying machine and test it in a wind tube
- Explore what it takes to get a roller coaster over a hill or through a loop
- Make balls over in midair using the power of air pressure
Explore the World of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is used by engineers and scientists, and it’s also used in the fabric of your jeans, the fur on your teddy bear, and the smartphones in your pocket! The nanotechnology exhibit provided us with a chance to:
- Zoom in and see what our favorite everyday objects look like magnified.
- Find out how tall we are in nanometers.
- Play with smaller and smaller magnetic materials and watch how they act!
- Discover how geckos stick to walls and how gravity affects tiny objects.
- See how a butterfly can produce a beautiful color on its wings without pigments using natural nanotechnology.
- Learn about people who work in the field and how they got interested in the science.
- Explore how nanotechnology and nano experiments can affect our future.
Explore Forces That Shape the Bay
In this exhibit, we were able to experience the geologic forces that shaped—and continue to reshape—our home, and enjoy a panoramic view of the entire bay. The activities in which we immersed ourselves included:
- Riding a earthquake simulators
- Set erosion in motion at a hands-on erosion table
- Scoping out the bay with powerful telescopes
- Controlling the water flow from the simulated Sierra Nevada
- Learning how the San Francisco Bay has developed in 10,000 years
- Look closer at all kinds of rock with the exhibit rock guide