During the month of July, my family and I decided to get in as much California travel as we could. While I love traveling all over the world, and experiencing all that different cultures have to offer, I realize that there is so much I haven’t seen or done right in my backyard! We drove down the California coast, but our very first stop on our adventure was to The Tech Museum of Innovation, in San Jose. The museum was kind enough to offer us complimentary passes so we could see and do all they had to offer. Well – nearly! The museum is quite large and it is filled with so many great exhibits and experiences. We tried to see and do as much as we could! We didn’t make it to their IMAX theater this time, but hopefully on our next visit.
The first area of the museum that we visited was The Tech Virtual Gallery. This museum is not your typical museum because everything is hands-on. In the Virtual Gallery you can be your own VJ, compose your own songs with Wikisonic, and more! One of my twins is quite the artist and was super excited to find this artist’s studio. There were drawings to choose from and you could watch them be drawn by a professional (in the computer), and speed up or slow down the process. Then at any time, you could pick up where the artist left off, with colors and different drawing utensils. The technology was great!
The next area of the museum we visited was quite popular because you could design your own roller coaster on a computer, then sit down and basically experience your design! You didn’t ride on a real roller coaster, but you could sit in a “car” and watch your roller coaster play out on a big screen in front of you. My kids and I love those Roller Coaster Tycoon type of games so this was a lot of fun.
In The Tech Test Zone, the kids loved playing in front of a large screen with an infrared light and thermal camera. We were fascinated to see how the colors on the screen changed with heat. If we placed our hands on our heads, the color would turn pink for a short time. While the kids played with this, I absolutely loved watching this large screen where butterflies were flitting across. I found that if I stood really still, butterflies would come land on my head (okay, just my shadow, but still cool!).
Another cool thing we found in The Tech Museum of Innovation was these wheel chair races. The kids got to sit down and see what it would be like to race each other in stationary wheel chairs. It kind of played out like a video game with being able to watch their progress on the screen.
We spotted a display of a variety of protective gear for different professions. Here we were able to learn how each piece of gear protected a person in that profession. There was also a display of a bike helmet that had suffered a bad bike accident. I got to show the kids how much a helmet does to protect one’s head. The helmet was damaged, but it saved one man’s life. Then of course, the kids thought it was super cool to stick their arms and face into a hockey player’s protective gear. Quite heavy stuff!
Okay, now for my favorite part of the entire museum! The face distortion pictures!! My daughter was laughing so hard as we watched our faces get distorted in a variety of ways. I could listen to the sound of her giggles all day! Aren’t we such an attractive bunch?
The kids were very excited to discover the Social Robots that we were able to build and design. We could attach different blocks to make the robot perform different actions. It was great for the kids to see cause and effect as you had to learn how to pair the right blocks to get the robot to perform the action. Then when we were finished with giving our robot actions, we got to dress it up.
For some real fun, each of us took turns testing out the Jet-Pack Simulator. This was a lot of fun and even showed our competitive side a bit. The Jet-Pack we were riding had a laser shooting up above us, and you had to move the jet-pack around to get the laser to point right at any given target. You had 60 seconds to get as many targets as you could. Great fun!
Seriously, we had a blast at The Tech Museum of Innovation. There was so much to do – way more than I’ve even listed! Another cool experience we took part in was an Earthquake Simulator. We got to sit in and briefly experience different earthquakes that have occurred over the years, in different parts of the world!
If you can make it to The Tech between October 19, 2013 and February 23, 2014, you are in for a treat with a brand new exhibit; Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination! Stop on in and check it out!