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Park-wide STEAM Family Day

2014-03-16 11:00 am - 3:00 pm


Balboa Park

(619) 239-0512


Event Website

A world of discovery awaits children of all ages at the next Balboa Park Family Day on Sunday, March 16, when nearly two dozen cultural organizations present a wide range of activities that put the fun into STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Activities take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are free with paid museum admission. Participating museums are also offering free admission to children 12 and under with a paying adult.

New this year is the addition of Maker exhibits inside the museums and on the El Prado walkway. Maker culture is an emerging technology-based extension of the modern DIY movement, and its family-friendly Maker Faires are well-known for entertaining and educating the public with demonstrations of new and exciting technology applications. Among the featured Maker exhibits at the Family Day will be an interactive Giant Electric Giraffe inside the San Diego Air & Space Museum and a machine made of office materials that bakes Solar Cookies inside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

In addition, a free drawing at the Balboa Park Visitors Center will give away, among other items, a Family 4-Pack of Balboa Park Passports, a Family 4-Pack to the SD Air & Space Museum’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not, tickets to a San Diego Junior Theatre performance, Old Town Trolley/Seal Tour tickets, four tickets to the San Diego Youth Symphony and the Conservatory’s Spring Showcase or Ovation Concert, and the Youth Symphony’s Live in Concert CD, and dinner for four at the Cosmopolitan Hotel from Fiesta de Reyes/Old Town State Park.

As in years past, this Science and Arts-themed Balboa Park Family Day will serve as a signature event of the annual Festival of Science & Engineering, from March 15 to 22, which culminates in the free Science & Engineering EXPO DAY at PETCO Park on March 22, featuring dozens of hands-on exhibits and various stage performances. For a complete schedule, visit

All Balboa Park Family Day activities take place on March 16 from 11:00am to 3:00pm unless otherwise noted in the schedule below. For updates, visit

Balboa Park Family Day Activities/Offers:

Children 12 and under are free with paid adult for general admission all day unless otherwise noted. General admission maynot include special exhibitions.

House of Pacific Relations International Cottages Open Houses: All the cottages are open, including the Hall of Nations. Lawn Program: Free live music and dance performances for all ages courtesy of the House of Ireland, 2 p.m.–4 p.m., including a hurling demonstration and Irish wolfhounds, in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

Japanese Friendship Garden —Learn about the Maker’sAquaponicsfood production system, which incorporates conventional aquaculture, such as raising fish, snails, or prawns in aquatic tanks.Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre —Free puppet-making from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Enjoy afull-stage marionette production ofPrincess and the Pea at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.. General admission $5, senior/military $4, kids under 2 free.

Mingei — Join the InforMath Collaborative to create art in a playful, imaginative way through the mathematics of space, geometry, and optical illusions inspired by the current exhibition Function and Fantasy. Also, visit the museum’s other folk art exhibitions, do an art project, go on a treasure hunt, and win prizes! Kids 12 and under are free with a paid adult admission of only $5.

Museum of Photographic Arts — Learn about the Maker’s Phantograms, which use distorted projections to produce a 2D image that appears 3D when viewed correctly. Mixing art and science, Phantograms imitate the way we normally see things in the world.Also, the California Center for Sustainable Energy’s Green Learning Adventure engages people of all ages in fun, hands-on activities that provide practical solutions to help us live more sustainably. Come ride the human powered energy bike in the Power Exhibition Gallery and see how much pedaling it takes to run lighting and other household items. How many incandescent, compact florescent or LED light bulbs can you light up? Can you run a fan or hairdryer? Andrea Cook, CCSE senior manager of education, will lead the fun-filled learning experience. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center — Experience various Maker’s exhibits, including Solar Cookies, Music Machine, Nerdy Derby, and a Girl Scout Soldering Demonstration; visit the popular GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World exhibition; and step into the Tinkering Studio to explore the science of sound. Also, discounted children’s admission for IMAX films and free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

San Diego Air & Space Museum — Learn how to make paper airplanes before a mass launch at 2:00 p.m. as part of the annual Paper Airplane Festival. Also, enjoy the Maker’s interactive Giant Electric Giraffe and participate in a special flying Quadcopter demonstration. Children 12 and under are free with paid adult; adult discount coupons available at Pay an additional $5 to visit the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! special exhibition. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

San Diego Automotive Museum — Explore three car-related Maker exhibits, including Electric Car Conversions, in which internal combustion engines have been converted to electric, a Wooden Electric Cart made by a 13-year-old boy from inexpensive materials, and Racing Robots.

San Diego Floral Association—A special Butterfly Celebration event in the Zoro Garden includesbutterfly crafts for younger kids, butterfly face painting, and a butterfly release at 11a.m., 12p.m., 1p.m., and 2p.m.Free admission for everyone all day. Co-sponsored with Friends of Balboa Park.

San Diego History Center — Make Scents of San Diego by playing the “Scent Game” to learn all about the various odors that waft along our city’s streets and coastlines, and that permeate businesses and homes. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

San Diego Model Railroad Museum — Operate model trains while discovering how trains of many different sizes are powered using solar, steam, electric, and magnetic energy! Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

The San Diego Museum of Art —Take part in the museum’s Family Drop-in Day art activities, designed for children and adults to enjoy together. Activities include art projects inspired by the museum’s collection, family-friendly docent-led tours, and gallery games. Activities are suitable for all ages and skill levels.

San Diego Natural History Museum — Dig in to the world of rocks and minerals while learning about geology, conducting experiments, and making a craft to take home. LEGO builders will be participating in theNAT’sRock On! Family Day and will offer two 6-foot building areas along with buckets of bricks to encourage kids to use their imagination and create a structure of their choosing. The LEGOS artists will also bring a variety of LEGO creations for display, including an antique telescope and a house from the turn of the century, to show the versatility of the toys.Guests can also enjoy theNAT’s newest exhibition, Real Pirates (not included with free admission). Also enjoy free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

San Diego Youth Symphony — Listen to SDYS’s talented musicians at their free open rehearsals from 1:15 p.m. until 5 p.m. in the Casa del Prado, rooms 205 and 207. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

Spanish Village Art Center — Hands-on art activities include making polymer clay beads and air dry clay masks, as well as painting and drawing activities for all ages. Free admission for everyone all day.

Spreckels Organ Society — Take part in a Family Festival Day featuring a host of kids activities in the Organ Pavilion courtesy of San Diego Junior Theatre, the Ana-Tommy children’s book, and various musical groups. Then at 2pm enjoy a free organ concert of tunes selected for young ears as performed by former San Diego Civic Organist Jared Jacobsen and the San Diego Children’s Choir. Kids will be invited to sit on stage and experience the organ close up.

Timken Museum of Art—In Art Tales & Mini Masters, exploregames that wealthy families played 300 years ago and play a story game with professional storyteller Harlynne Geisler. Afterwards, familiescan go outside to create colorful mobilesto hang in their bedrooms.For children ages 5 and up.Storytelling at 11am only. Admission and art materials are free; no reservationsor ticketsneeded.

UNA International Gift Shop — Choose one free flag from a wide variety of countries (while supplies last).

Booths& Activities outside the Visitors Center

Balboa Park Cultural Partnership— Learn the benefits of becoming a Charter Member of the Explorer program. The Balboa Park Explorer is the first-ever annual pass that provides general admission to 17 cultural institutions.

Fiesta de Reyes/Old Town Historic State Park — Test your luck by spinning the Wheel of Fortune, a beautiful, handcrafted prize wheel that is replicated from the 1800s. Winners will receive coupons and prizes from the Fiesta de Reyes shops and restaurants, located in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

House of Pacific Relations —Enjoy craft activities for kids that highlight the arts and sciences. Also learn about future scheduled events at the International Cottages, including the popular Ethnic Food Fair.

Japanese Friendship Garden — Learn the art of origami and create animals, plants, and other fun crafts out of paper.

Metropolitan Transit System (MTS)— Pickup punch-out cardboard bus and trolley banks, coloring books, and other fun items for kids, in addition toMTS Bus and Trolley route and schedule information.

Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) — Walk into an oversized (9 x 7 foot) camera obscura, a device that led to the invention of photography, in front of the museum.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center —Test your skills at cleaning the ocean! Students from the Fleet’s after-school SciTech program will showcase devices they created to collect trash from the sea without harming marine life, and families are invited you to try their hand at a simulated ocean clean up.

San Diego Air & Space Museum — STEAM-themed paper-airplane activities to prepare visitors with hands-on fun on their way to the Paper Airplane Festival.

San Diego Civic Youth Ballet —Meet costumed dancers, create a craft, and enjoy other photo opportunities. Visitors can also pick up handouts about spring performances of Cinderella and SDCYB’s school and summer camps.

San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering — Pick up a DNA kit and take part in a hands-on extraction activity. Also, learn about the many other activities around the county that are part of this year’s San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering.

SDG&E — An electric vehicle display will provide information on clean transportation as well as many other energy-saving solutions. Also, in partnership with the PEAK environmental education program for students, a hands-on demo will feature a solar circuits lab, which will help familiarize families with the concept of energy efficiency and its relationship to solar power.

San Diego History Center —Preview and begin participating in the “Making Scents of San Diego” activity taking place inside the History Center’s galleries.

San Diego Public Library — Apply for a library card and discover the free educational and cultural resources at 36 library locations throughout San Diego. Families can participate in fun activities, including face painting, bubbles, and balloons from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

San Diego Youth Symphony — Learn how to play an instrument at the Youth Symphony’s instrument “petting zoo,” and register for the 2014-15 auditions. Also, learn more about SDYS’s partnership with UC San Diego and its SIMPHONY study to track how music education affects children’s brain and language development. 

San Diego Model Railroad Museum — Discover how trains are powered using solar, steam, electric, and magnetic energy, and operate and model train.

San Diego Natural History Museum — Celebrate the Natural History Museum’s newest exhibition, Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship, by picking up some pirate booty! (Please note: Real Pirates is special ticketed event.)

STE(+a)M Connect — Check out two interactive games built by PhD students at UCSD who started ThoughtSTEM, in which players wave their hands in space to control the character in the game. Participants will be able to play the game, see how it was written, and even program a bit themselves to change some aspect of the game! Also, learn more about the first-ever STEAMConnect conference on March 28 at Qualcomm, which will showcase leaders in the arts and STEM and new inspiring STEAM initiatives. Visit

Worldview Project — Learn more about the Worldview Project’s efforts to create better cross-cultural awareness and understanding, check out the “Where I’ve Been and Where I Want to Go” world map, and enjoy free snacks and drinks (featuring international flavors).

XEWT Channel 12, Club Infantil and El Trompo, Museo Interactivo Tijuana — The Channel 12 station mascots, Tebeo and Trompobot, will present cool experiments for kids, young and old.