San Diego Attractions for the Family:
The Reueben H. Fleet Science Center
Looking for the perfect place in San Diego to give your kids some fun, hands-on lessons on scientific principles and concepts?
The Rueben H. Fleet Science Center, located in the heart of Balboa Park, has all that and more.
The Center is home to dozens of interactive exhibits that are sure to excite junior scientists of all ages – including the ability to see how a (mini) tornado is formed, learn how a collection of still frames can be used to create motion pictures, find out how sound travels long distances, pluck a few guitar strings and watch as they vibrate, or try out some experiments in The Tinkering Studio.
Since opening its doors to the public in 1973, the Science Center has been one of the most popular San Diego attractions, especially for young science students. Indeed, the last time I visited the Fleet, as it’s known to locals, was during a fourth grade science field trip, along with two other classes, filled with kids who couldn’t wait to make their hair stand on end with static electricity.
During my visit, I was happy to see that classroom groups visiting the science center was one thing that hadn’t changed, even if the entire Science Center had seen a major, state-of-the-art makeover in-between my visits. And with a host of all new exhibits, there’s even more fun to be had.
Among the eight exhibits on display, audiences will find So Watt, which focuses on all types of energy – from solar and electrical, to wind and nuclear, and more. The exhibit features a slew of interactive models that showcase where San Diego’s water supply comes from, and how it gets from reservoirs to our homes. There are also a few that teach about energy conservation, and even challenges kids to “see how much energy you can save” with an interactive power grid.
You’ll also find the new Don’t Try This At Home show, a live science exhibition featuring demonstrations that are either Too Loud, Too Messy, or Too Shocking to be performed at home without a trained science professional on scene.
I caught the Too Shocking show, and was happy to see the tradition of demonstrating a human electrical conduit with impressionable youngsters was still alive and well.
But the Science Center’s biggest attraction is also probably its most famous: The Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Dome Theater, the only IMAX dome theater in all of San Diego.
Indeed, this was the star attraction for 10-year old me, and 30-something adult me was just as enthralled with the show. Kicking off with a short intro that recalls 2001‘s star gate sequence, and makes full use of the dome’s huge digital projection equipment, the films on display are grand in scope and execution.
At the time of my visit, the theater was showing Hidden Universe, a film about the study of the universe using high-tech optical and thermal telescopes; Journey to the South Pacific, a story about a boy in West Paupau who takes a sea voyage to study marine life up close; and Humpback Whales, a film about…well, I don’t really want to give it away.
Kids, parents, tourists, and young science fans will not find a better, or more fun, way of exploring the sciences and technology than at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego.
Editor’s Note: Exhibits and movies change periodically. Please check their website for the most current showings.
By: John LeBlanc