If your little sweeties love science then it will be worth the 45 minutes it takes to get to Santa Ana in order to explore the Discovery Science Center. This is a real hands on, kids oriented center with many different exhibits that require interaction. A tornado, simulated using fog and fans, can be manipulated to dissipate and regroup into a twister (I think that’s my favorite.) A large water table filled with sand and flowing water allows visitors to experiment with erosion. A whole area is devoted to simulating and demonstrating the effects of an earthquake. And there’s always a line of kids to experience lying down on the bed of nails. There’s also a climbing wall, and a giant wheel with fog billowing through it to make cloud rings. Upstairs there are exhibits that test strength and skill, like a chair and pulley contraption to see if you can lift yourself, gizmos to test your reaction time and coordination, and some fun with aerodynamics. A section called “Techno Arts” combines lasers, lights, and sounds for creative interaction, and there are exhibits that demonstrate optical illusions.

The activities at the Discovery Center seem best suited to children ages 5 to 13, especially considering some of the special exhibits coming up like “Sesame Street Presents: The Body” and “Bubblefest,” but most of the exhibits are so well done that the whole family will enjoy participating.

Unlike the California Science Center in Exposition Park, the Discovery Center charges admission ($12.95 for adults, $9.95 for kids) so you might want to consider buying a membership ($89 for family) when you go if there is a possibility you will go more than once in a year. As with the Natural History Museum and the L.A. Zoo, getting a membership allows you entrance into a network of neat places around the country, or, in the case of the Discovery Center, around the world– including Israel! It’s a nice indoor activity to jot on the “fun things to do” list.

Notes:

Discovery Science Center, 2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana 92705, phone:714-542-2823, on the internet: http://64.143.71.42/