Thursday, June 3, 2010

'Exploring Trees Inside and Out' Plants Roots at California Science Center

CC investigates a giant acorn at the interactive "Exploring Trees Inside and Out" exhibit.

Nature is in full bloom at the "Exploring Trees Inside and Out" exhibit, currently on display at the California Science Center through Sept. 26.

The traveling exhibit, which opened May 28 at the Exposition Park museum, is a playful, interactive child's-eye view of how trees fit into our world. An added bonus? It's free.

And CC couldn't get enough of it.

Not only can kids climb and play inside a giant treehouse and slide into a pile of colorful autumn leaves, they can also don ladybug and bird costumes and see themselves fly on screen.

There are also multiple "sensation stations" where children can use their senses to smell cinnamon and maple sap, touch tree bark and listen to the sounds of nature.

Presented by Doubletree Hotels, in collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, "Exploring Trees" is a fun way to have kids stretch their legs and their imaginations.

Doubletree and the Arbor Day Foundation began a relationship about seven years ago, with adopt-a-school programs that focused on environmental preservation, conservation and sustainability.

According to Doubletree executive Thomas Wingham, mentors from the hotel went out into the community to "really connect kids with nature."

The pair kicked the relationship to the next level when the Foundation presented the company with "renderings of what was a tree museum exhibit that would travel all over the country," added Wingham.

"Personally, as a caretaker of an 8-year-old little girl," he said, "I have a vested interest in really wanting to inspire her to appreciate what's outside her door every day."

And this is definitely a place to appreciate nature. CC loved the oversized bird's nest, where she could arrange sticks and sit on larger-than-life blue eggs. She also colored pictures of trees, worked at building a birdhouse and eyed small objects in a magnifying scope.

She also couldn't stop talking about "running through wind" and playing with her (imaginary) "squirrel friend."

The 2,500 square foot exhibit has already traveled to seven other cities and will be heading to Chicago after L.A. In total, about 650,000 visitors have experienced "Exploring Trees," which means lots of kids have learned more about the environment.

CC and I will definitely be going back.

Bottom photo credit: Casey Rodgers / AP Images for Doubletree Hotels

"Exploring Trees Inside and Out"
California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037
Admission: Free

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