If you’re a kid at heart and love interactive science exhibits, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is for you. All manner of hands-on educational exhibits, together with the IMAX theater, make this high-energy museum a place that many people return to again and again.
In addition to the rotating displays on everything from space travel to science of boogers and dandruff, there’s 12 permanent exhibits. One explores the process of aging and lets you see what you might look like when you’re elderly, while in another you can look at different types of human cells under the microscope. Another focuses on optical illusions and the ways you can trick your sense of touch, while another shows you how San Diego’s water supply works and yet another lets you play with solar panels. There’s whisper dishes that project your voice across the room, a giant turntable on which you can place objects to see how they react, and the Tinkering Studio, where you can combine mechanical parts to create new inventions. For the smallest patrons there’s Kid City, with stacking blocks, a toy grocery store and fire station, and even an area reserved for the exploration of those too young to walk.
The Heikoff Giant Dome Theater is one of the main attractions. It really is a dome, with the 76-foot wrap-around screen stretching nearly eight storeys high. IMAX movies play in regular rotation, and occasionally there are planetarium shows or special films that use the entire screen in 360-degree wraparound glory.
Of course, it should be mentioned that the Fleet’s popularity and the age of its target audience means it’s pretty consistently crowded and noisy, with children all over the place. If you like that, great, but if not, the main tip is to avoid the free Tuesdays, when the number of young patrons skyrockets.
The museum can be found at 1875 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101.