We went to Cal Day today, which is when Cal Berkeley opens up its labs, museums, buildings and libraries to the public and has lectures, demonstrations, and all sorts of activities for kids and adults. We had heard too late about it last year, so I was determined to make it this year. We did get a late start, but Jack, Chance and I made it onto campus by about 11 am. We were later than we should have been because Chance didn’t want to go, and I had to push myself out the door (just wanted to relaaaax). Jack said that he was excited about going, and that made all the difference – out the door we went!
Next year, we’ll be there earlier, just because we ran out of time exploring the different buildings (we never made it to the astronomy labs, which are supposed to be way cool), plus we missed a few cool demos that started earlier in the day. It helps if you are a very nosy person who doesn’t mind asking questions, because a majority of the tables are posters and demos by current students who are just waiting for someone to prod them into talking. Thank goodness we have Chance who is the complete opposite of his mother and will talk to just about anyone about anything. I love that he is so unconcerned with what people think of him, and will start up conversations with someone in a checkout line, or on the BART train. When we took BART to go see the Peking Acrobats show a few weeks back, he sat in a different row from me, Luke and Jack and spent most of the trip to Berkeley talking to two older ladies, who seemed to enjoy the conversation very much.
Anyway, we checked out Soda Hall and Cory Hall, which are both previous haunts of Daddy when he was in graduate school, but they had to build an entirely new building to keep up with the burgeoning computer department, called CITRIUS. One of the computer science professors has filmed a lot of the new construction and had a time lapse film made with the video showing the loaders and excavators moving around at chipmunk speed. Chance saw a sign for a “Hack-a-thon” which was a 24 hour contest for computer types to code a program for some serious cash prizes and was very bummed that he was too late to go and check out the action. We also checked out the exhibit for hydrogen fuel cell cars, solar cars and hovercraft vehicles, all put on by the Sustainable Transportation department. They even had a Segway for kids to try out, but we weren’t able to beat the lines, so gave up.
We then walked over to the Valley Sciences Building, which contains the Vertebrate Zoology Museum, ordinarily closed to the public all year except for Cal Day. We say some live animals like turtles and lizards, and Jack even had a snake crawling all over him (he must smell good) at one point. They even had a huge python for the kids to touch, and I told the boys that they must have fed all of the snakes before the event, some of the little girls petting the python looked like they would have been just the right size for dinner! Luke loved hearing all about the snakes when we returned home. The most interesting part of the Vertebrate Zoology Museum was seeing all of the stuffed and preserved animals in the research section. The museum tries to have samples of all vertebrates that live on the West Coast, and we read posters and papers on hummingbirds, coyotes and even little pikas (little hamster like mammals that live up in the mountains). I tried to talk the boys into going to the basement to check out the Paleontology Museum, but they declined. Neither of them has ever been that crazy about dinosaurs and/or fossils, so I’ll have to wait until Luke is older to take him to go and see the skeleton of a T. Rex in the lobby.
Just to top it all off, we stopped at Berkeley Games on the way out, where we spent 30 Luke-free minutes shopping and browsing in peace. Jack made the momentous decision to invest in some Pokemon cards with his allowance. I don’t see the allure, but he has about 3 friends who are deep into the cards, so I think being left out when they are trading and talking cards was too much for him!