Valley’s First Science Museum Opens
Exclusive to the North Valley Reporter
By Glenn Bailey
After more than a decade of delays and financial uncertainty, the Valley’s first science museum finally opened to the public on November 13th.
Located in Lake View Terrace on 2.5 acres of land in the Hansen Dam Recreation Area, the two-story DiscoveryCube Los Angeles is a $56 million project featuring 71,000 square feet of hands-on science-based exhibits, displays and learning spaces.
The grand opening was an impressive hour-long ceremony with congratulatory speeches by those involved with making the museum dream a reality. Afterwards, the dignitaries gathered on the stage at their assigned power stations and group photo was taken of the entire audience. And then on queue they began pushing levers, turning wheels, and pulling ropes to “power up” the centerpiece needle which moved from “inspire” to “educate” and finally to “impact,” setting off fireworks and confetti. And with that, the facility was opened and hundreds of science fans of all ages streamed into the museum for the first time.
Visitors explored distant galaxies and dinosaurs, took a helicopter tour of Southern California, shopped for sustainable groceries in a miniature market and descended deep below the earth’s crust to help save water and protect the aquifer without ever leaving the San Fernando Valley.
The museum was inspired by the 25-year success of Discovery Cube Orange, formerly the Discovery Science Center, which is undergoing its own expansion under the newly formed Discovery Science Foundation (DSF).
“Discovery Cube L.A. gives us a once-in-a-lifetime, blank-canvas opportunity to dream up the ultimate hands-on science experience,” explained Joe Adams, CEO of the Discovery Science Foundation. “While we are including updated versions of some of the best exhibits from Orange County, most of this campus is being created from the ground up specifically for the Los Angeles visitor. The result is a best-in-class facility that will rank as one of the most technically advanced and regionally relevant science museums in the world.”
The two Discovery Cubes are part of an ongoing commitment by the DSF to expand STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) proficiency, early childhood learning, healthy living and environmental stewardship in Southern California through engaging science-based programs and exhibits that create a meaningful impact on the communities they serve.
Permanent, hands-on exhibits spotlight the work of the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation and the Department of Water and Power as part of both groups’ larger strategic partnerships with the museum. LADWP sponsored and co-sponsored exhibits are dedicated to education on sustainable housing and preserving California’s valuable natural resources. The exhibits included are the Inspector Training Course, a simulated Helicopter Tour, and the first-ever “Aquavator” – a virtual elevator that takes guests down into earth’s crust to learn about aquifers and how to protect these fragile, underground reservoirs. Visitors learn about the different types of aquifers, how aquifers are beneficial, and why they are important to the local environment.
“Education is critical to the success of our efforts to transform Los Angeles’ water and power supplies and create a more sustainable future,” said LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards. “LADWP is proud to sponsor exhibits at DCLA that creatively illustrate what it takes to get water and power to Los Angeles. Through this, we can engage Angelenos of all ages in protecting and conserving LA’s water and energy resources.”
The Bureau of Sanitation (LA SAN) is represented by sponsored and co-sponsored exhibits dedicated to teaching visitors about waste reduction and resource conservation. These exhibits include the Discovery Market, Planetary Research Station, Inspector Training Course, Aquavator, and the “Race to Zero Waste” – a thrilling, game-based adventure that challenges participants to sort trash and divert materials from landfills. Players learn what items can be recycled, qualify as green yard trimmings, and what should be disposed at S.A.F.E. (solvents,
automotive, flammables, electronics) Centers.
“L.A. Sanitation is proud to partner with Discovery Cube to inspire, educate and impact sustainable practices to promote quality of life and protect public health and the environment,” said Enrique C. Zaldivar, director, City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation. “These state-of-the-art interactive exhibits will send DCLA visitors home with the tools to get involved and be environmental stewards in their own neighborhoods.”
Discovery Cube Los Angeles features the following permanent offerings:
• Helicopter Adventure – Step into a one-of-a-kind helicopter theater and lift-off on this multi-video adventure. Guests will follow the 300 mile journey water travels from Mt. Whitney through the Los Angeles Aqueduct system and into the L.A. basin, while learning about the scarcity of water and how conservation can protect this precious natural resource. Then, a second video explores the process of water sanitation and reclamation with an underground view of local sewer systems and the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. Guests will learn what happens to water after it’s been drained, flushed, and used and how treated water can be repurposed in the community.
• Discovery Market – An immersive grocery store that uses game-based technology to teach kids and their parents the importance of purchasing and packaging decisions as well as labels, nutrition facts, and making healthy shopping choices. Based on one of the most popular exhibits in Orange County, DCLA’s version will be updated and customized to Los Angeles.
• Sun Stage – DCLA staff lead live, hands-on science demonstrations that use fun games, audience participation and guest interaction to educate and entertain.
• Planetary Research Station – Examine Earth like never before using a suspended, animated globe. Visitors will have a unique view to observe visuals related to the atmosphere, oceans, and land. With a focus on climate change, visitors can explore weather patterns and watch historic storms, observe the impact of catastrophic earthquakes and human activities, and gain an understanding of global warming along with flight patterns and all from an out-of-this-world perspective.
• Making the Grade Gallery – A customized gallery that brings grade-specific lessons to life through hands-on exhibits to help students throughout Los Angeles County better understand the Next Generation Science Standards.
• Inspector Training Course – Visitors will master their skills in resource efficiency and sustainable housing choices when they become eco-friendly home inspectors during the Inspector Training Course. Touch screen tablets will teach ways to employ the four R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle, recover; conserve water, energy, waste; and even offer tips for earthquake preparedness.
• Park Science – Learn about the environment surrounding the Hansen Dam area and the importance of exercise with rock climbing and mountain biking. Take a lesson in meteorology and learn about the Santa Ana winds, the L.A. River, local habitats, and tree science.
• School Readiness Gallery – It’s never too early to start preparing for kindergarten! Early learners will find activities to help build skills necessary for reading, understanding language, understanding the concept of numbers, and to succeed in school.
Other museum highlights include the Teacher Resource Center, a customized space allowing Southern California educators to check-out DCLA science kits and lesson plans and discuss school topics and content related issues with trained DCLA staff and other teachers; and the 70-seat “Discovery” 4D Theater that will host an ongoing program of films and live presentations, many produced specifically for Los Angeles.
Using the Orange County center as a model, museum officials will supplement the permanent exhibits in Los Angeles with a continuing mix of traveling exhibits and programs to encourage repeat visits and keep the offerings relevant and consistent with in-classroom lesson plans and real-world science applications.
Discovery Cube LA’s first traveling exhibit, “Dinosaurs – Fire and Ice,” allows guests to travel back in time and come face-to-face with dinosaurs in their prehistoric environment. Put on an insect costume, meet touchable dinosaurs, and dig for fossils in this fun and engaging exhibit which will be featured until January 4, 2015.
Additional exhibits and installations, including potential partnerships with Los Angeles-based organizations, are planned.
“To borrow a phrase from another Southern California visionary, Discovery Cube Los Angeles will never be completed since we’ll constantly be updating our offerings to reflect new advances in science – and to give Angelenos exciting new reasons to visit,” added Adams.
Discovery Cube Los Angeles is expected to draw 180,000 visitors during its first year and create 24 local, fulltime jobs and 70 local, permanent part-time jobs. Operating on a first-year budget of $4.7 million, it will receive the same operational, program-development and fundraising support that enabled Discovery Cube Orange County to receive the prestigious National Medal of Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2013.
Daily hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the facility closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
General admission is $16.95 for adults and $12.95 for children. However, as a grand opening promotional offer, admission for everyone is $10. Family memberships that are good at both Discovery Cube campuses are available for $99 for a family of six, and for a limited time, guests can add a second year for just $25.