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Get Hands-on at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

Get hands-on while learning about everything from prehistoric mammals to modern gardening

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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. At the Amazing AirMaze, visitors can blast colorful objects through a two-story-high network of clear, pneumatic tubes to learn about the properties of airflow and air pressure. 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 the museum’s director of marketing and communications Joey Sanchez. And reflecting the diverse community of Silicon Valley, the exhibits feature trilingual signage: English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. And it’s not an entirely indoors affair. The museum’s half-acre Bill’s Backyard: Bridge to Nature outdoor learning environment invites kids to get their hands dirty, whether they’re digging in the dirt and planting seeds, tree-climbing, or learning about the 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 Sanchez. Before going, check the museum’s calendar for upcoming events.

More Things to Do in Downtown San Jose

While you’re in the downtown district, check out The Tech Interactive, a family-friendly museum that focuses on science and innovation; also nearby is San Jose Museum of Art, which has exhibits of paintings, sculpture, photography, and drawings, much if it from California artists but also artists from the Pacific Rim. If you are feeling ambitious and your schedule permits, the city of San Jose has an excellent two-day self-guided walking tour of the downtown area that hits all the historic sights of this very old former capital of the Golden State, as well as places to kick back and relax.

 

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