Lawrence Hall of Science, 50 years: 1968-2018; University of California, Berkeley
Digging for fossils

Verónica Urdaneta

June 2, 2014 ­– Berkeley, CA. It can be a challenge to adjust to the changes in schedules and routines that come during the last weeks of summer. New school choices for some, shopping for back-to-school supplies, or starting college are just a few of the many things that occur at this time. Yet the most important thing that parents usually think about is what kind of opportunities they can offer their children to discover and continue developing their natural curiosity and exploring their interests. Summer is the perfect time for children to think about how science connects to their experiences while they get ready to return to the classroom.

To choose from among these valuable opportunities, parents ask themselves questions such as: Does she like animals? Does he squirm when he sees blood? What is her favorite thing to read? What is his favorite pastime? Is she good at counting? Parents are natural observers and kids natural wonderers, but as kids grow up, the fundamental question is: what would they like to be as adults? For some children, the answer to the question is simple: “I just want to be an archeologist, like Indiana Jones,” replied seven-year-old Camilo.

Working on a archaeology digBut Camilo has had many opportunities in his short life to explore what archeologists do. His uncle was part of a group of speleologists at a university. Camilo had the chance to go with him to explore summer caves, where they found artifacts from Native Americans. From those outings with his uncle, Camilo learned how to observe the landscape for signs of possible excavation sites. He learned about digging carefully to preserve objects that he found, as well as taking notes and classifying his findings. “These experiences helped Camilo to confidently affirm that when he grows up he would like to become an archeologist,” explained his uncle. Every summer the uncle added a new exploration to their vacation planning, and over time Camilo learned many facets of the profession of archeology.

On the other hand, Camilo’s cousin, Mariana, wants to be a professional surfer when she grows up. She loves the water and surfing. She started with her dad, who built surfboards, since she could not afford her own, and surfing has become her passion. Her parents tell her that it will be hard to make a living as a surfer when she grows up, to which she replied that she will someday open a surf shop, now that she is learning how to make her own boards.

There are no limits to children’s imagination. Providing hands-on science helps those creative, ambitious little minds to come up with options about how they envision themselves when they reach adulthood. Like Camilo, who wants to work as an archeologist, some kids who started taking martial arts classes at a young age arrived at the conclusion that they want to be ninja warriors when they grow up. Children might think about inventing ways to save the planet, but whatever the circumstance it’s great to have plans to maintain the gains of learning activities over the course of the summer. The Lawrence Hall of Science can help with numerous options for kids to continue their exploration of the world and still enjoy the waning days of summer, while preparing for school. The Hall enables children to try things, to do things, to learn things. Trapeze arts, engineering festivals, and Summer Fun Days are just a few of the choices that parents have available this summer at the Hall to have their kids’ minds set on getting back to school and exploring some of the questions they have about themselves and the world they live in.

Trapeze Arts
Marvel at the high-flying stunts of Les Aerielles Troupe arts, then try out stilts and a tightwire. (Summer Fun Day, August 6, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m.)

Research Roundup
Meet the UC Berkeley students and entomologists who are making cutting-edge advancements in the field. (Summer Fun Day, August 13, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m.)

Engineering Festival
Participants can build a hydraulic system, a wind turbine, or a bridge at this celebration of the world of engineering. (Summer Fun Day, August 20, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m.)

Racing Cockroaches
Race a robotic bug against a live cockroach, and compare the robot's engineered form to the roach's natural form. (Weekends and holidays at the Animal Discovery Room.)

Bug Hunts Sponsored by ScholarShare
What bugs can you find right outside the Hall? Head out with a magnifying glass, net, viewer, and field journal and take a closer look at local species. (Daily, June 14–August 24, On the hour between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.)

Kids are born scientists. Even if the only job they can see themselves doing for the rest of their life involved finding a lost treasure, they will always have questions, and they will always be heavily influenced by their surroundings. As Gretchen Walker, Public Science Center Director at the Hall, explains: “Summer can be a great time for kids to direct their own learning. When parents take them to places like museums and science centers, where they can choose what to explore, their minds are kept active and engaged. For many of us, it was experiences outside the classroom that led us to our passions and eventual careers. You can help your kids learn and discover what they want to be, simply by providing opportunities to explore.”

Summer is a perfect time to help children think about themselves and their future. By making science a part of family life, parents can help these young minds not only interpret the world they live in, but also envision themselves in a career and imagine the contribution they can make to their chosen field. So visit the Hall’s website often for updates on events and resources both in summer and throughout the year.

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