• Ashinsa de Silva Wijeyeratne

Evolution, Invention, and Innovation at the California Science Center

From space shuttles to starfish, witness the wonders of scientific discovery first-hand at the California Science Center.

The first sight to greet me as I walked towards the California Science Center was a garden filled with roses – white, yellow, pink and red in color – which made me feel as though I was in a magical realism novel. The Rose Garden is one of several attractions situated in Exposition Park, Los Angeles. Chief among those attractions are the California Science Center, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and the California African American Museum.

The beautiful Rose Garden at Exposition Park

Opened in 1998, the California Science Center provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the world of biology, physics, chemistry, and engineering. The Center focuses on interactive learning, with many of the exhibits specifically designed for this purpose. You can touch a starfish, experience aircraft motion, and even scale a rock wall! The best part is that entry to the permanent exhibits at the California Science Center is free, although some special exhibits and the IMAX films are ticketed.

The entrance to the Science Center

The ecosystems exhibit is one of the main permanent exhibits in the center. From the warm tropics and scorching deserts, to the snowy arctic, you can experience changes in the climate in each section, while walking past live animals that call these environments their home. Other permanent exhibits showcase the evolution of life on Earth over the years, inventions and innovations by man, as well as a variety of aircrafts.

Patrick the Starfish

The IMAX theater shows stunning films that offer insight to natural phenomena, biology, and other interesting topics. During my visit in 2016, I watched a film about the everyday life of the astronauts aboard the space station. Who knew getting a haircut in space was such a complicated process! The most stunning part was when I saw what the Earth looked like at night from space. The lights from some countries twinkled like fireflies while the Aurora Borealis swirled around in a haze of emerald green.

The most popular exhibit at the center is probably the space shuttle Endeavour. Reservations must be made beforehand and tickets purchased to view the exhibit, but it is well worth it! I could hardly believe I was standing next to a real space shuttle! Information about the space program from its inception to the last shuttle that was sent can be found on the walls surround it along with other interesting exhibits like ‘SPACEHAB’, ‘Space Potty, and the external tank.

The Space Shuttle 'Endeavour'


Getting to the Science Center is quite easy if you take the Metro Expo Line and exit at the Expo Park/University of Southern California stop. The center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days.

Learn more about the current special exhibits and IMAX films by visiting the California Science Center website.

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