Kids Have Fun With Physics At The California Aerospace Museum

By Alyssa Green

Last weekend we had the opportunity to visit the Aerospace Museum of California, located at the former McClellan Air Force Base in North Highlands.

Now, I have two sons, so we have been to this particular museum a number of times.  We have not, however, visited since they have added two new exhibits targeted specifically to children.

The first is the Aeroplay Kids Zone, for children 5 years and younger.  Located upstairs, this is a great play area for the little kids with aerospace themed toys and games as well as a storytime each Friday morning.

The second new kid-friendly exhibit is called Fun With Physics and is located on the main floor.  The exhibit consists of many different “stations” of interactive play that focus on physics.  Things to build, puzzles to solve, etc.  Some were easy, others more difficult…even for me.  Luckily there were docents on hand to help us!  We spent quite a bit of time at this wonderful hands-on exhibit.

In addition to these two new exhibits, there is of course the main attraction:  
the airfield full of both military and civilian aircraft, flown by the United States Air Force and Navy from 1940 to 2000.  Many of which are open for visitors to climb inside and take a look around.

You’ll also find plenty of eager docents lying in wait to share their abundance of knowledge not only of the museum, but of each aircraft as well.  For instance, we learned that our docent Bill, an Air Force Navigator during the Korean War, had actually navigated in one of the planes on display.  Cool, right?

And although all aircraft is grounded, kids can get a feel for flying and how it’s changed through the years by hopping inside the Flight Simulator.  A bit like being on an amusement park ride, it was both fun as well as educational.  And my son LOVED it!

Now, you may be thinking that this museum can only capture the interest of your sons…but not so fast.  Plenty of girls enjoy the Aerospace Museum too.  They will especially be interested in the history of the WASPs (Women Air Force Service Pilots from WWII) or  “Women in Aviation and Space.”  And let’s face it.  Who doesn’t enjoy, even a little bit, climbing inside real live airplanes from the past?  Even the girliest girl can find that interesting, I did!

Tomorrow, Saturday May 19 is Armed Forces Day and Open Cockpit Day at the
museum.  A perfect time to visit.  And don’t forget to stop by the playground next door at Freedom Park on your way home.  They have THE coolest play structure your kids have ever seen.  They’ll think they have died and gone to space.


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