Family Science

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What’s Your Ocean Promise?

by rockprogram on Jun. 6th, 2014 No Comments

california coast

Don’t you just love taking a stroll down the beach and taking in the ocean breeze? Maybe you have a favorite ocean animal you like to explore underwater or at the aquarium. Mine are jellyfish, but I also love seahorses! What’s yours? Oceans do so much for us! They provide us with entertainment, inspiration, but also supply us with food, and contain organisms that contribute to the air we breathe. Help us celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8th and every day. Be a part of this global celebration. How, can we celebrate? Find an event near you!

Rocky Reefs and More at the Academy!

Appreciate your ocean friends and be inspired to make a promise to our oceans while checking out our latest addition, Rocky Reefs. The new exhibit highlights a colorful 2,000-gallon tank of invertebrate life found off the California Coast. Make sure to test out the interactive display, to track the extraordinary migration pathways of sea turtles, sharks, and other long-distance travelers. Come admire the beauty our oceans provide. Don’t forget to stop by the Citizen Science station where you can contribute to an ongoing Academy research project and learn more about how to protect California’s coastal ecosystems.

Our oceans are filled with fish of different shapes and sizes. In this hands-on art activity, Fish Prints, students will study and identify features of the external anatomy of a fish, and learn about issues related to conservation of fish. Gather for story time and explore Sea Monsters.

Continue your appreciation with us! Help the Academy celebrate World Whale and Dolphin Day by adding your own stories and pictures to an interactive art installation in the East Garden. Learn about the challenges that whales may encounter in their ocean homes and what you can do to help. Open all-day in the East Garden from June 28th-29th.

Take a selfie for the sea

The selfie phenomenon, as we all know, has exploded all over social media as a means of self expression. Follow the next phenomenon! Take a selfie of yourself doing something for the ocean, or making a promise. Are you drinking out of a reusable water bottle? Take a selfie! I promise to carry my reusable bag to every grocery store and shopping center. What’s your ocean promise?

Every Skull Has a Story

by rockprogram on May. 7th, 2014 No Comments

Skulls Exhibit opens May 16

Have you ever looked at a human skull? If you have, you may have noticed how our eye sockets our positioned at the front of our skull. And you also may have noticed that our teeth include canines, incisors, and molars. Human skulls look pretty neat don’t they? But have you ever seen the skull of a hammerhead shark or that of a toucan?! Well, wait no more! These are some examples from the FASCINATING collection in Skulls, opening May 16th and running until November 30th. Trust me; you’re in for a treat in this highly interactive experience collected by Raymond “Bones” Bandar, an Academy research associate, who has been collecting skulls for more than 50 years!

Skulls of a Lifetime

Then make your way up to the Naturalist Center to see Bandar’s Bones: Skulls of a Lifetime. Curated by Bandar himself, the 10-case display is available now for viewing. You can see his personal display highlighting a variety of mammal skulls. In addition, the Naturalist Center will have lots of fun skull related activities all around. Check online for Naturalist Center hours as they may differ by day of the week.

Chomp, Bite, and Chew: How Do Our Teeth Do What They Do?

Let’s get to know our teeth! Teeth tell us a lot about what we eat and how we eat what we eat. With your family choose at least three types of food (choose different textures like apples, carrots, beef jerky, sunflower seeds, soft bread, etc.). Eat one item at a time and as you’re eating it, think about which teeth you use and how you use them. Did you tear with your front teeth first, then chew with your back teeth? Record your observations and continue discovering which teeth are used when eating the rest of your food items. Discuss your results with your family and talk about the function of each type of tooth.

What’s Their Story?

The next time you look at a skull, look very closely. Observe it for a couple minutes. Skulls tell us stories of our vertebrate animal friends. Head to your local library to check out Skulls : an exploration of Alan Dudley’s curious collection and explore beautiful pictures of more than 300 different animal skulls. Skulls tell us whether animals are predators or prey in their ecosystem (eye placement), or whether they are diurnal or nocturnal (relative eye size). They can also tell us whether an animal eats meat, or only enjoys greens, or both just by looking at their teeth. Ask yourself, “What’s their story?” You can find out more here.

Shifting Seasons

by rockprogram on Nov. 7th, 2013 No Comments

California Poppies Outside The Academy

Have you noticed the change in the air? The days are becoming shorter, the nights are growing longer, and the air is crisp and chilly. Autumn is upon us!
As the seasons change, so do many plants and animals. Some of these changes are obvious: a honking flock of geese migrating south for winter might catch our attention, or the leaves on a deciduous tree will change from green, to gold, to red, to gone. However, some changes are much more subtle, and are well worth keeping an eye out for. There are many ways to explore the changing seasons, both at the Academy of Sciences and at home. With your family (and perhaps a jacket!), try watching autumn in some new ways.

Watch the Sunset at Home

We know the days are getting shorter, but by how much? Step outside with your family and watch the sunset while or peek through the window and write down your observations. Using a watch, keep track of how much earlier the sun is setting each day. If you have a thermometer handy, you can also record how the temperature is changing. Compare your answers by clicking on California and selecting your city, and see how close your observations are.

How Will our Living Roof Change?

Our Living Roof is a great place to watch the seasons change. If you have visited during the spring or summer, you might immediately notice a difference. Make predictions about how this roof will change as we get closer to winter. Which species will tolerate the cold, wet winter? Which ones will fade away until spring? Ask a docent stationed on the roof or visit the Naturalist Center to learn more about the species that live there.

Galapagos Islands

by rockprogram on Sep. 3rd, 2013 No Comments

galapagos islands

Have you ever heard of the Galapagos Islands? Zoom in and try to find it on this map. Hint: It’s neighbor is the country of Ecuador. Did you find them?! These islands formed as a result of erupting lava that cooled down as lava rock from volcanic activity on the ocean floor. Over time these lava rocks grew and grew into an archipelago, a cluster of islands. There are many endemic species (species native to this area) to the Galapagos, but how did they get to an area that is hundreds of kilometers away from any continent?

Settling on the islands

By playing our bingo game in our lesson, Coincidental Colonization,you’ll experience first-hand how chance plays a big role in the successful dispersal of your species to an area such as the Galapagos. Notice the different ways species could have colonized or settled on these islands. What species will you choose? Maybe the blue footed boobie or the Galapagos tortoise? How will it settle?

Cal Academy’s Expeditions to the Galapagos

Take a look here at one of our scientist’s expedition 800-m deep in a submersible capable of withstanding the enormous pressure so deep into the ocean. John McCosker has made many discoveries, including fish found only in the waters of the Galapagos. Next time you visit us here at the California Academy of Sciences in our Islands of Evolution exhibit, check out the specimens collected during this expedition along with other specimens such as the Galapagos tortoises and Darwin’s famous finches which were collected on previous expeditions.

image credits:
Galapagos Islands Charlie Zielinski

Calling All Naturalists!

by rockprogram on Jun. 7th, 2013 No Comments


Do you enjoy being outdoors surrounded by nature? Ever wondered how botanists, scientists who study plants, press flowers for their collections? Or maybe you’ve always been curious to dissect an owl pellet! Join the Naturalist Center this summer where you and your family can learn and develop Naturalist skills and explore the natural world together.

Naturalist 101: Botany Basics
Saturday, June 22 at 10:00 am
This program is for adults and families with children ages 10+.
The Bay Area is home to a dizzying array of native plants. From monkey flowers to lizard tails, how do you begin to identify them? Get started by examining the common parts of flowering plants and discovering differences among major groups. Then, explore the grounds around the Academy, where more than 70 local species grow.

Reservations: Members $10; Non-Members $15; Reservations required; space is limited. To reserve a place today, buy a ticket online or call 1-877-227-1831.
Please Note: Meet at the Business Reception Desk located on 75 Nancy Pelosi Drive (formerly Middle Drive).

Junior Academy: Naturalist Know-how
Sundays at 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
New program for ages 8-11 starting Sunday, June 30th, 2013!
Learn how to be a naturalist! Each month a new nature skill will be presented. Simply stop by the Naturalist Center (Level 3 across from the Planetarium exit) a half hour before the program begins in order to register.

This program is free with Academy admission. Youth must be accompanied by an adult. Space is limited to 20 youth with attending adults.