Dinosaurs Galore and More at Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science
July 12, 2011Posted by andrew |
I haven't been to Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science since way back when I was in college, so when I learned about their new exhibit Dinosaurs Unearthed, it seemed like a great reason to visit this hands-on science center located in the hills high above the UC Berkeley campus. Since the focus of the show is dinosaurs—every kid's favorite science subject—my children thought it was a great idea for an outing, too.
Dinosaurs Unearthed, on view at the Lawrence Hall of Science through January 1, 2012, features lifelike animatronic dinosaurs that open their jaws, move the limbs and tails, blink their eyes, roar, stomp, and more. My son and daughter were both extremely excited to come explore the world of the dinosaurs here, and we were not disappointed. You can visit a variety of popular dinos, including Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Triceratops, and others.
As soon as your enter the building, we got a taste of what was in store with a life-size triceratops near the exhibition entrance. We were all amazed by how realistic it looked. The kids were so excited they insisted on seeing the dinosaur exhibit immediately.
In addition to the animatronic dinosaurs, the exhibit also features a selection of full-size dinosaur skeletons, a hands-on fossil dig site, dinosaur fossils, and interactive multimedia stations. There's also an area for younger kids with activities like a dino dig site, climb-in dino nest, and more. The exhibit is definitely a lot of fun for dino lovers of all ages.
After our dinosaur experience, we broke for lunch at the Hall's Bay View Cafe, which offers a variety of salads, sandwiches, and soups, as well as a kids menu where choices include a pizza or Niman Ranch hot dog with either chips or fruit. You can also bring your own food for a picnic indoors or out.
You can spend the entire day at the Lawrence Hall of Science, which is what we ended up doing. We visited the Hall's planetarium, where we saw the Flying High show (for children ages 4 to 8, accompanied by an adult), where we took an imaginary trip into space and learned about astronomy, our solar system, and space travel. The planetarium also offers two other programs for older kids: Constellations Tonight and Target Earth.
We also built structures with the Hall's Kapla blocks, visited snakes, lizards, turtles, spiders, and insects in the Animal Discovery Room, and learned about the Earth from Science on a Sphere. There's so much to do here it probably warrants more than one visit.
With its location high up in the Berkeley Hills, the Lawrence Hall of Science is almost worth the trip just for the amazing panoramic views of the entire Bay Area. The outdoor area has plenty to do, too, with a waterfall, stream, and stepping stones, lawn, and even another animatronic dinosaur. In front of the buliding there's a life-size whale sculpture and giant DNA model for kids to play on.
If you go
Named after UC Berkeley scientist and Nobel Prize winner Ernest O. Lawrence, the Lawrence Hall of Science has been education and entertaining Bay Area families for over 40 years. The Hall is located near the UC Berkeley campus at One Centennial Drive. It's open daily from 10 am to 5 pm; closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving. The Bay View Cafe is open 9–4 pm Monday–Friday and 10 am–4 pm on weekends. There's also the Discovery Corner Toy and Book Store, which offers educational science toys, games, craft-making kits, and books for all ages.
Admission, which includes the special exhibition fee for Dinosaurs Unearthed, is $17 for adults 19–61; $14 for students 7–18, seniors 62+, and disabled; and $11 for children 3–6. Children under 3 are free. There's an additional $4 fee for the planetarium show.
To get there from Marin, cross the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge and take 580 east to Interstate 80. Take the University Avenue exit into Berkeley, follow University to campus, then turn left onto Oxford Street. Turn right on Hearst Avenue, then right on Gayley Road. Turn left onto Stadium Rim Way just after the Greek Theater, then turn left onto Centennial Drive and follow it up to the Lawrence Hall of Science.
For more information about Lawrence Hall of Science and their programs, activities, camps, classes, and events, visit www.lawrencehallofscience.org or call (510) 642-5132.