Current weather

San Diego, CA
Few clouds
48.2 °F

Science Family Day: March 16, 2013

Families can discover how much fun learning science can be at Balboa Park’s annual Science Family Day, on Saturday, March 16. Kicking off the weeklong San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering 2013, various museums and cultural institutions will offer science-related hands-on activities and special programs for kids of all ages. In addition, a DNA Moving Performance, featuring one of the world’s longest DNA models (created by area science students), will be paraded down the Prado at 11:45am. SDG&E will also be on hand to show the latest technology in electric cars.

Children 12 and under will be admitted free with a paid adult admission at participating museums (some restrictions apply). 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, tickets to a San Diego Junior Theatre performance, Old Town Trolley/Seal Tour tickets, two 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 Barra Barra or Casa de Reyes from Fiesta de Reyes/Old Town State Park.

From March 16 to 23, the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering 2013 will present programs throughout the county, culminating in the free Science & Engineering EXPO DAY at PETCO Park on March 23, which will feature dozens of hands-on exhibits and various stage performances. The event will take place from 10:00am until 5:00pm. For a complete schedule, visit

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

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 may not include special exhibitions.

Japanese Friendship Garden — Take part in science-related crafts for kids and grab some gourmet comfort food at the Ms. Patty Melt food truck from 11:30am to 2:30pm.

Marston House — Free admission for children 12 and under with paid adult admission.

Mingei — Free admission for children 12 and under with paid adult admission.

Museum of Man — Kids of all ages can experience what it’s like to be a real physical anthropologist as they compare and contrast bone features using replica bones and artifacts. Learn how forensic scientists identify bones and what they tell us about people, their age, and gender, and then test your own knowledge of human bones.

Museum of Photographic Arts — 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 — Experience a full array of science exhibits and activities, including the debut of the Origins of Life exhibit, a parachute design experiment in the Tinkering Studio, a space rock detective activity for children 5 and under in Kid City, and an opportunity to test drive a solar-powered robot designed by the Robo Chicks. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below). Free exhibit gallery admission for children 12 and under with paid adult admission. Children 12 and under can also get gallery + IMAX admission for $9.50 (normally $12.75). Adults pay full price for all admission levels.

San Diego Air & Space Museum — At the Paper Airplane Festival, learn to create different types of paper airplanes while gaining insight into the science of flight. Then enter your creations into competitions for farthest flight distance, longest air time, and flight accuracy. Be sure to stay for the group launch in front of the museum at 3:00pm. Also, from 11am to 3pm, witness the first annual “Fly Your Ride!” competition finals, as middle school and high school teams from San Diego County jump their flying car designs over an ever-increasing gap inside the museum. Children 12 and under are free with paid adult; adult discount coupons available on website. Does not include admission to Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Discounted opportunities for children and adults to see Ripley’s Believe It or Not will be available that day to festival attendees. Please ask at the admissions desk for more information.

San Diego Automotive Museum — Traffic cones are not just for traffic anymore! Kids will discover how to use them in very unique ways as they share their “visions” of seeing them differently. Also, coloring sheets will bring out the inner car designer in anyone.

San Diego Floral Association—A special “Joy of Butterflies” event in the Zoro Garden includes butterfly crafts for younger kids, butterfly face painting, and  butterfly releases at 12:00, 1:00 & 2:00pm. Free admission for everyone all day. Co-sponsored with Friends of Balboa Park.

San Diego Hall of Champions—Children 12 and under free with paid adult. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

San Diego History Center — Children 12 and under free with paid adult. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

San Diego Model Railroad Museum — Kids of all ages can learn about alternative energy sources as they operate a train running on solar energy. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

San Diego Museum of Art — Museum docents will take visitors on science-themed tours of the collection.

San Diego Natural History Museum —Behold the mysteries of nature’s creatures in theNAT’s newest exhibition, Dr. Entomo’s Palace of Exotic Wonders. Make a craft, get a tattoo, and uncover the science of entomology through hands-on activities with real scientists. Children 12 and under free with paid adult admission (includes 3-D films). Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

San Diego Youth Symphony — Listen to SDYS’s talented musicians at their free open rehearsals from 8.30am until 7pm in Casa del Prado, Rooms 205 & 207. 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. 

Spanish Village Art Center — Families can learn the unique properties of clay and polymer clay in a special interactive demo, experience the science of paint as they paint small paintings or join in making a large banner together, and discover the science of glazes in a demonstration of glazing on tiles. Free admission for everyone all day.

Timken Museum of Art— Storyteller Harlynne Geisler will pair the life of the 17th-century artist Luca Carlevarijswith an Italian fairy tale, as visitors learn how to make a camera obscura, a device Luca used to help him paint. For children ages 5 and up. Storytelling at 11am only. Free admission for all ages; no reservations needed.

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

Booths outside the Visitors Center:

Balboa Park Sustainability Program —Pick up free kids activity books, while supplies last, that teach energy efficiency, along with information on sustainability and energy efficiency at home.

Fiesta de Reyes/Old Town Historic State Park —Play the Magnifying Guessing Game and the Guess the Scientists game,and test your eyes with some optical illusions. Also, 10% off coupons valid at Barra Barra and Casa de Reyes Restaurants in Old Town will be handed out.

Girl ScoutsBoys and girls will discover, connect, and take action as they learn all about magnets in the Girl Scouts’ “Science Scholars: Magnets” activity. The magnet program includes magnet kits for children, an informational packet, and a take-home activity.

Japanese Friendship Garden —Families can participate in various craft activities.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center —Kids of all ages will discover how craters are formed on Earth and on the Moon and by making their own impact craters.

San Diego Civic Youth Ballet —Visitors can pick up handouts about spring performances of Beauty & the Beast and SDCYB’s school and summer camps.

SDG&E —Learn about special rates for charging electric vehicles and see firsthand two electric vehicles, the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt.

San Diego Hall of Champions — Visit the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s “Reach High” display, and learn about the technology these inspirational athletes use to help them achieve their goals.

San Diego History Center —Learn different ways that people have secretly communicated with one another in the past in the Science of Cryptography (code breaking) activity, and see how smart card capabilities work today. Then create your own secret message to send to a friend.

San Diego Model Railroad Museum — Stop by to pick up information about the museum’s many family-friendly offerings while your kids enjoy a coloring craft.

San Diego Natural History Museum — See if you have what it takes to be a paleontologist by playing a bone identification matching game. Match them all and win a prize!

Spanish Village Art Center — Find out about the special art activities happening in the Spanish Village on this Family Day.

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.