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STEAM Family Day: March 15, 2015

As the first major event for families on the 2015 Centennial Celebration calendar, the next Balboa Park Family Day on Sunday, March 15, brings a world of discovery to children of all ages. Over two dozen cultural organizations will put the fun into STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math—through hands-on activities, crafts, demonstrations, special exhibitions, and more.

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. Adults who have a Balboa Park Explorer Pass, which grants year-round museum admission to individuals ($129) or families with up to four children ($199), receive free admission as well. Single-day and multi-day passes are also available.

Back by popular demand from last year’s STEAM Family Day, Russell, the 11-foot electric giraffe, and a number of other specially designed Maker exhibits, will be on view throughout the Park. Maker culture is an emerging technology-based extension of the modern DIY movement, and the family-friendly nature of its creative contraptions, which educate and entertain the public with exciting technology applications, perfectly complements Balboa Park’s Family Day atmosphere.

A free drawing at the Balboa Park Visitors Center will give away, among other items, a Family 4-Pack to the San Diego Air & Space Museum and MathAlive!, 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, the Youth Symphony’s Live in Concert CD, and dinner for four at the Cosmopolitan Hotel from Fiesta de Reyes/Old Town State Park.

Families looking for an inexpensive transportation option to Balboa Park Family Days can take advantage of MTS Family Weekends, when two children 12 and under ride free with any paying passenger 18 and over on Saturdays and Sundays. MTS’s new Rapid 215 route provides limited-stop express service to the San Diego Zoo and the museums on Balboa Park’s east side. Visitors can also access Balboa Park directly via MTS Bus Route 7, which runs along Broadway, Park Boulevard, and University Avenue, and MTS Bus Routes 3 and 120, which provide service to the Park’s west side along Fourth and Fifth Avenues.

As in years past, this Science and Arts-themed Balboa Park Family Day will serve as an anchor event of the annual San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering, from March 14 to 21, which culminates in the free Science & Engineering EXPO DAY at PETCO Park on March 21, 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 15 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 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.

Friends of Balboa Park and San Diego Floral Association— Butterfly Celebration in the Zoro Garden includes butterfly crafts, butterfly face painting, butterfly displays, storytelling, ladybugs, and live butterfly releases at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m.Free admission for everyone all day. Other park organizations sponsoring activities include Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, theNAT, and World Beat Center.

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

Japanese Friendship Garden  — Learn about the bugs that make the garden beautiful and make your very own butterfly finger puppet out of natural materials from the garden. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below). 

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre — Free puppet-makingfrom 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Enjoy a full-stage marionette production ofThe Magic Wellby Weaverstales at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.. General admission $5, senior/military $4, kids under 2 free.

Mingei International Museum — Use creative math and engineering skills to create handmade beads inspired by the Mingei’s Bead Gallery. Furniture maker Christy Oates demonstrates her process of digital making combined with traditional woodworking techniques. Kids 12 and under are free with a paid adult admission of only $5. All activities included.

Museum of Photographic Arts — Learn about aerial photography using quadcopters Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center — Visit Russell, the 11-foot electric giraffe, in the plaza in front of the Fleet. Inside, experience Maker exhibits Nerdy Derby to make and decorate your own pinewood car and race down the track; a Girl Scout soldering demonstration to learn how to solder an LED blinking badge; and Fold & Fly to see how far your paper airplane can fly out of a robotic launcher. Gallery admission free for children 12 and under with a paid adult admission; IMAX films discounted to $9.95 for children 12 and under with a paid adult. Also, 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; participate in a special flying quadcopter demonstration in front of the museum. Children 12 and under free with paid adult; adult discount coupons available at Explore the special exhibition 2theXtreme—MathAlive!for an additional $5.00.

San Diego Art Institute — Visit the exhibit about recycling, reusing and repurposing in the world of art and participate in a craft to take home.

San Diego Automotive Museum — Explore three car-related Maker exhibits in front of the museum, including Electric Car Conversions, in which internal combustion engines have been converted to electric. Coloring sheets of automobiles spanning the 1910s to 1970s accompany cars on exhibit in the museum galleries.

San Diego History Center — Interactive Maker exhibit of a custom FabLab-designed working scale model of the Panama Canal that lets visitors navigate a “boat” from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Kids 12 and under free with a paid adult admission of only $5. All activities and the film Balboa Park: The Jewel of San Diego (at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.) included. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

San Diego Model Railroad Museum — Create and customize your very own electricity-matching game and put it to the test using our equipment. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

The San Diego Museum of Art —Learn about the properties of color and light in an LED-inspired art exhibit. Also, free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) — Explore the diverse habitats of southern California and the animals and plants that reside in them in Coast to Cactus in Southern California; learn about chaparral ecosystems and make a craft to take home. Children 12 and under receive free general admission with paid adult that includes all 2D and 3D films. Tickets to The Discovery of King Tut must be purchased separately. Also, enjoy free activities on the Prado walkway (see below).

Spanish Village Art Center — Hands-on art activities, including air dry clay masks, as well as painting and drawing activities for all ages. Free admission for everyone every day. Free activities on the Prado walkway (see below). 

Spreckels Organ Society — Take part in a Family Festival Day featuring a host of kids activities in the Organ Pavilion. Then at 2 p.m. enjoy a free organ concert of tunes selected for young ears. Kids will be invited to sit on stage and experience the organ close up.

Timken Museum of Art —See Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks. Free admission for everyone every day.

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

Booths & Activities outside the Visitors Center:

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.

Girl Scouts — Discover the basic elements of nature and make a connection with the environment in the “Science Scholars: Magnets” hands-on activity. Also learn more about the Girl Scouts’ ongoing STEM program in San Diego and how girls can get involved.

House of Pacific Relations —Enjoy crafts 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 andTrolley 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 —Create cornstarch sculptures and learn about the Fleet's incredible camps, clubs and events. 

San Diego Civic Youth Ballet — Meet and take photos with costumed ballet dancers and create a fun craft! Visitors can also learn about the 70th Anniversary of the resident classical ballet school in Balboa Park and pick up handouts about spring performances of The Sleeping Beauty, as well as SDCYB’s school and summer camps. 

San Diego County Fair — Learn about the educational programs, exhibits,and contests offered at the 2015 San Diego County Fair (June 5 –July 5). Free radish plant make-and-takes and much more will be offered to kids!

San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering — learn how to make awesome cellphone art while learning about the properties of water.

SDG&E — Learn about clean transportation and other energy-saving solutions from an electric vehicle display. Also, in partnership with the PEAK environmental education program for students, discover the relationship of energy efficiency to solar power in a hands-on demo of a solar circuits lab.

San Diego Air & Space Museum — Get a close up view of the quadcopters that will be flying in a cage in front of the museum.

San Diego History Center —Participate in the Scent-sing San Diego! game to uncover some of the biggest mysteriesinSan Diego’s history. Beware! Not everything in San Diego smells as good as it should!

San Diego Model Railroad Museum — Learn Balboa Park and railroad trivia using electricity-matching game boards that teach youth how a closed circuit of electricity is created; discover how a solar-powered model train works; find out more about the museum’s new Centennial Railway Garden.

San Diego Museum of Art — View and sample a few of the color and light projects that are being presented inside the museum. Pick up a Search and Find game and head into the galleries to find the clues.

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 a “Brainstorm” magic show (12 noon to 1 p.m.) and face painting (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.).

San Diego Youth Symphony — Learn how to play an instrument at the Youth Symphony’s instrument “petting zoo” and register for the 2015-16 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 Natural History Museum — Play a game to learn which plants and animals are native to San Diego and which are not; learn more about the Coast to Cactus in Southern California exhibition.

San Diego Zoo — Teens can join the Zoo Corps and use artifacts, biofacts, and interactive games to share information about saving species, sustainability, and animal care.

School in the Park — View demonstrations of ongoing, hands-on STEAM projects involving robotics and engineering from students representing four schools in the City Heights Educational Collaborative (CHEC).

Spanish Village Art Center — Pick up a bag of “Art Parts” (pieces of art activities) that can be brought back to the Spanish Village to complete a unique art project.

STE(+a)M Connect — Showcase of highlights from the 2nd Annual STEAMConnect Conference on March 5, 2015, including 1-2 engaging STEAM activities to use in and out of the classroom. Visit

Time Warner Cable (Community Partner)Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds initiative is dedicated to connecting young people with hands-on STEM learning opportunities. Visit the CAMM booth for fun and educational STEM

Timken Museum of Art — Explore how you can create spectacular abstract paintings using paint, marbles, and gravity.

Whole Foods Hillcrest (Community Partner) — Veggie Art activity in which kids can create artwork using veggies and natural ingredients as paint; pick up a copy of Whole Deals, which includes coupons and recipes.

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 — Frank Favela from Zona de Escapeand El Trompo, Museo Interactivo Tijuana,will present cool games and experiments for kids, young and old. 


Please be advised that photographs will be taken at this event for use on the Balboa Park website and in the press, Balboa Park marketing materials, and other Park publications. By entering this event, you consent to the organizers in Balboa Park photographing and using your image and likeness.


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