8 Fun Places that Expose Kids to STEM Learning

Stem learning 2151

Meaningful, experiential learning opportunities for kids and families are everywhere. No need to wait for a class field trip — take the family to one of these local spots or take a memorable day trip beyond San Diego County. Here are eight fun places that support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning. We call them micro-adventures!

Missed our article about day and weekend trips that teach kids about art, culture and history? Find it at www.sandiegofamily.com/things-to-do/out-about/2144.

La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

Los Angeles, CA
Visit this active dig site to learn how animals became trapped in the tar, and how scientists are using those fossils to learn more about our planet’s last ice age. Kids will love the tar pull, where they can see what it’s really like to be stuck in tar—without getting sticky. Catch a 3D film or live multimedia show to really explore the work done here. Step into the museum to see full skeletal displays of ice age land mammals like the mammoth or sabertooth cat. Guests can also visit the Fossil Lab where paleontologists study fossils pulled from the tar.

National Park Service Junior Ranger Program
Nationwide
Take a weekend trip to Joshua Tree National Park or visit any of our country’s beautiful national parks to request a Junior Ranger Booklet. Inside are activities for kids to complete while exploring the park, such as drawing and writing about what they see or picking up trash to preserve the park’s beauty. Once they’ve completed the tasks, kids can be sworn in as Junior Rangers. Activities are free and designed for children ages 5-13, though all are welcome to participate. Learn about other national programs such as Junior Archaeologist and Junior Wilderness Explorer on the website. Visit the family travel section {link bold to http://www.sandiegofamily.com/things-to-do/travel} of our website for tips on visiting specific National Parks.

Orange Empire Railway Museum
Perris, CA
Kids (and kids at heart) love exploring their favorite machines at this operational museum railway. Historic trains and trolleys take guests for a ride in a fun and educational loop. See electric and diesel-powered trains most weeks, or stop by on third weekends September through May to catch the steam locomotive. Exploring the grounds is free (except during special events). All-day train ride passes are available for purchase—free for kids ages 4 and under. Check the website for special events.

USS Midway
Downtown, San Diego
Come aboard for awesome STEM lessons from the flight deck to the engine room. Learn how aircraft take off and land on this floating city. See what it takes to fly the world’s most advanced aircraft as you check out flight simulators, sit in cockpits and chat with real pilots. Don’t miss the Power Plant Challenge, where visitors learn about the power generation required to move this behemoth. Plan to spend the day aboard—there’s so much to see! Day passes are free for ages 5 and under. For added adventure, participate in the Little Skippers program, where kids ages 4–7 and a parent spend the night on the USS Midway.

San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour
Palm Springs, CA
Take the family on a special tour to see where earthquakes are born! This four-hour ride in a sturdy Jeep takes guests to see the most colorful, magnificently layered portion of the San Andreas Fault. An expert naturalist guide will explain the geological phenomena of the distorted, rugged canyons and wonders of the desert landscape. Up to 5 guests. Not recommended for children under age 6.

Maritime Museum of San Diego
Visit this historic fleet to learn about the progression of marine engineering from sail to steam to submarine. Enjoy current exhibits, exciting events and opportunities to get out on the water.

Fleet Science Center
With tons of hands-on science exhibits and a tinkering studio, this space is perfect for young explorers and their families. Find out about programs such as Junior Science Club and Preschool Science on their website.

Botanical Gardens
Learn about plant life at one of San Diego’s gorgeous botanical gardens. Check out free gardens at Balboa Park and Cuyamaca College. Discover more local gardens spaces for kids to explore and learn here.

Find fun DIY science projects at www.sandiegofamily.com/for-the-kids/family-science.

Anne Malinoski is a contributing writer and mother of two boys. She loves to watch them learn.

Published March 2018

--------------

Best Playgrounds in North County

Best Playgrounds in North County

San Diego’s North County is home to beautiful and unique playgrounds tucked away in parks, quiet neighborhoods and even right on gorgeous North County beaches. Take advantage of San Diego’s awesom . . .

Read more

Awesome Parks to Spend the Day!

Awesome Parks to Spend the Day!

We all have our go-to outdoor hangouts in San Diego: a neighborhood park, your little one’s favorite playground, the one shady tree that’s perfect for a picnic. But it’s fun to get out and explo . . .

Read more

Fun Scavenger Hunts for Kids

Fun Scavenger Hunts for Kids

Ready for something new and exciting to shake up your routine? Scavenger hunts are great family entertainment! Plus, they get kids off the couch to explore familiar surroundings with fresh eyes. Whe . . .

Read more

Favorite Hiking Trails in San Diego

Favorite Hiking Trails in San Diego

With San Diego's awesome year-round weather and a plethora of hiking trails for all levels, it's no wonder hiking is a favorite pastime for San Diego families. Here are some favorite local trails, s . . .

Read more

Family Things to Do in San Diego County by Neighborhood

Family Things to Do in San Diego County by Neighborhood

Looking for things to do in San Diego with kids? Discover local attractions, hidden gems, kid-friendly restaurants and much more, organized by local neighborhoods. Out & About is a great resource . . .

Read more

Ask the Locals: Hidden Spots in San Diego for Families

Ask the Locals: Hidden Spots in San Diego for Families

Hidden Gems for FamiliesEveryone loves to discover little-known spots, especially in their own neighborhood. Plan a day to take the kids and explore hidden gems in San Diego. Tag us on Instagram @sand . . .

Read more

24 Ways to Connect with Nature in San Diego

24 Ways to Connect with Nature in San Diego

There is tons of research on the importance of connecting with nature. With San Diego’s amazing weather and beautiful, natural landscapes it’s easy to increase time outdoors. Find nature anywhe . . .

Read more

6 Fun Train Experiences in San Diego

6 Fun Train Experiences in San Diego

All Aboard! Looking for a fun family weekend excursion? Climb aboard one of these San Diego train rides. Kids (and parents) will enjoy the chugging of the engines and wind in their hair. Here are si . . .

Read more

Tips for Visiting Tide Pools in San Diego

Tips for Visiting Tide Pools in San Diego

The best time to visit tide pools is during winter months when low tide occurs during daylight hours. But there’s more to know about tide pooling than when to go. These do’s and don’ts from Sa . . .

Read more

9 Ocean Animal Adventures in San Diego (and Beyond)

9 Ocean Animal Adventures in San Diego (and Beyond)

Do your beach-loving kids obsess over dolphins, orcas and sea anemone? Before summer ends, indulge in some much-needed “vitamin SEA” and plunge into ocean learning at one of these SoCal spots th . . .

Read more

8 Fun Places that Expose Kids to STEM Learning

8 Fun Places that Expose Kids to STEM Learning

Meaningful, experiential learning opportunities for kids and families are everywhere. No need to wait for a class field trip — take the family to one of these local spots or take a memorable day t . . .

Read more

Enjoy the Night Sky Stargazing at Palomar College Planetarium

Enjoy the Night Sky Stargazing at Palomar College Planetarium

Enjoy stargazing in San Diego with your family at the Palomar College Planetarium located approximately 30 minutes north of Downtown.With its state-of-the-art digital technology, 50-foot Astrotec do . . .

Read more

Fun Educational Places to Go with Kids to Beat Summer Slide

Fun Educational Places to Go with Kids to Beat Summer Slide

San Diego County offers countless places to engage in educational play. If you’re concerned about summer learning loss (aka summer slide), or just want to inspire and stimulate learning while havi . . .

Read more

Tide Pools in San Diego

Tide Pools in San Diego

Favorite Tide Pool Spots in San Diego The San Diego shores offer plenty of tide pool fun for families, but the key is to know when to go. The best time to go tidepooling is in late fall and winter . . .

Read more

Let the Kids Get Dirty, Fun Places to Play Outdoors

Let the Kids Get Dirty, Fun Places to Play Outdoors

6 Fun Places to Play Outdoors in San DiegoAccording to Children & Nature Network, playing outdoors can improve or prevent attention difficulties, obesity and mood disorders. It also provides a r . . .

Read more

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!