The science center’s website provides general information but lacks finer detail. It doesn’t list the correct address but provide directions. The correct address is “1 Centennial Drive, Berkeley, CA”. The exhibit details are not fully listed. A better source for details on the exhibits is the wikipedia. Access to the center from most parts of the bay area, is past the UC Berkeley campus area and up the hill. Traffic can be a drag especially on game days. From the east, there is another route that avoids the campus area.
The building, which has sweeping views of the bay, has a number of exhibits in the front as well as in the back. These include “Forces that shape the bay” an outdoor science park, a life size model of a fin whale, and a larger than life DNA sculpture. The kids played on all of them although it is doubtful how much of the concepts they actually absorbed. Inside the building, the Kapla building blocks and the jamming center in the wild music section were the favorites.
Our first visit earlier in the year was triggered when the kid’s obtained free passes through our local library summer reading program. We spent about three hours then and were able to glean what the museum had to offer. Since we were a little pressed for time we could not participate in the shows at the planetarium or in a family workshop. Gauging the kid’s interest, we decided to spend the additional money for an annual family membership for $75. On our subsequent visit, we spent about an hour on the exhibits and saw the “Journey to the Moon” show. This show intended for kids ages 4-7 requires adults to accompany them. The planetarium is fairly small with seating for about 30 people. The show runs for an hour and was really good. It is geared towards kids of that age group and adults may find it basic if not accompanying a child.
Even with the family pass, expenses can quickly add up. Parking is $0.75 per half hour and is NOT included with the family pass. Planetarium shows are $3 for adults and $2.50 for children and is also an extra to the pass. Cafeteria food is mediocre at best and the price very unreasonable. If you venture outside, there are several choices that are better alternatives. The center also offers a number of programs that caters to members who live in the area.
Overall we plan to go a few times and time it so as to see one planetarium show or participate in a family workshop on every visit. As for renewing the membership for another year, we haven’t made a decision yet.
Last Updated: 02/2011.