http://mv-voice.com/blogs/p/print/2013/08/16/back-to-schools


Local Blogs

By Greg Coladonato

Back to Schools!

Uploaded: Aug 16, 2013

I don't know who is more surprised by the end of summer and the imminent return to the school-day schedule: my wife and I, or our kids!

Since June, thoughts of school bonds and district politics have somehow taken a back seat to summer camps, vacation trips, and stopping to smell the roses with my daughter and sons.

With the new school year upon us, I'm excited to begin sharing some of my thoughts on current education issues, be they local, state, or national, here in this space which the Mountain View Voice has graciously afforded me.

In keeping with a tradition I hazily recall from my own elementary school days, I thought I would use some of the space in this first post to share a little of 'What I did over my summer vacation" with my wife and three kids. Specifically, I'm writing from a wonderful coffee shop in Santa Monica, CA, having spent most of this week down in Los Angeles County.

Even though I grew up "next door" in Orange County, in Santa Ana, I moved away in the late 80s, and much has changed since I've left. And some of that change has been good! We visited three places this week which either didn't exist during my youth, or have been greatly improved since. And since all three of them were not only fun, but also educational, it feels perfectly natural to share my experiences at them in a summer post on my education-centric blog. If you ever make it down to LA with any children in tow, I highly recommend a visit to any of these places.

My kids all found something to enjoy at kidspace, a fittingly named playground-cum-museum in Pasadena (kidspacemuseum.org). Between taking part in a presentation on the various roles in an ant colony (during which my son donned an orange construction-worker vest and my daughter a camouflage-colored helmet), and exhibits which demonstrate various physical laws, my kids were constantly darting from experience to experience, and were sad to take their leave of kidspace.

Across town in Long Beach, at the southern edge of Los Angeles County, is the Aquarium of the Pacific (aquariumofpacific.org). Since my family has always enjoyed trips to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I knew this place would be a hit as well. My kids all loved watching the seals and sea lions zipping around under water during one of the water shows, and equally enjoyed running through watery playgrounds, replete with climbable spouting whales and leaky pirate ships. While the boys enjoyed petting manta rays and small sharks, my daughter was completely satisfied with her visual sensations.

Perhaps the capstone of our museum/exploratorium hopping was yesterday's visit to the California Science Center (californiasciencecenter.org) in downtown Los Angeles. The older kids (and adults) may prefer this destination to the other two. Speaking for myself, I was fascinated by the Space Shuttle Endeavor exhibit, which is quite well done and highly informative, and well worth the $2 entry ticket. Speaking of prices, the California Science Center, by virtue of it's being a state agency, is free to the public, though donations are encouraged. I don't think there's a better bargain for the cost-conscious out there!

Tonight we return home, and gear up for starting school on Monday. In the coming weeks and months, if you come across a school or education related topic which you think warrants greater attention, or in which you think I'd be interested, please don't hesitate to send me an email at backtoschoolsmv@gmail.com. I will respond to all the emails I receive.

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