Kids get to learn about science in real-life ways—from fossil-digging to bubble-blowing and gardening—at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. The location alone offers some serious Silicon Valley street cred: The distinctive purple building sits on downtown San Jose’s Wozniak Way—known by locals as “the Woz,” and named after Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
First opened in 1990, the museum houses roughly 150 exhibits, ranging from classic displays to interactive real-world applications, and geared to kids as young as infants (the sweet spot, though, may be elementary-school age). Start by checking out Lupe, the replica of a woolly mammoth—whose real fossils were found in Silicon Valley—then take to the neighboring dig pits to learn how archeologists search for fossils. In other areas, kids can make art, blow giant bubbles with bubble rings, play with worms to learn about composting, and explore the mathematical magic of circles.
“Parents love the opportunities that the museum provides for family learning, whether it’s seeing who can create the biggest bubble, sparking scientific inquiry in Mammoth Discovery, or unleashing a misty cloud of fog in WaterWays,” says museum spokesperson Cecilia Clark. And reflecting the diverse community of Silicon Valley, the exhibits feature trilingual signage: English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
As of fall 2017, the museum is stretching outdoors. Its half-acre “Bill’s Backyard: Bridge to Nature” invites kids to get their hands dirty, whether they’re digging in the dirt and planting seeds, tree-climbing, or pumping water out of a rain catchment system.
“Regardless of ability, age, or access, adults love that their children take the lead in exploring in a safe, welcoming, and enriching environment,” says Clark. Snack time is rewarding too: The museum’s FoodShed offers fresh and minimally processed foods—like sweet potato quesadillas, whole-grain-bread sandwiches, and German apple cake—all low in sugar with no additives or preservatives.