Inspire a love of science, technology, engineering and math in your kids without them even knowing they’re on the path of STEM learning. We’ve found 9 places that will engage and enlighten little ones while summoning their inner techie in a super fun environment. Scroll down to see where to ignite your kids’ curiosity––encountering exciting things from a gigantic battleship to a rocket booster engine!

Fleet Science Center

Located near an abundance of cool museums in Balboa Park, the Fleet Science Center is a STEM hot spot for SoCal families and visitors alike. First off, flight test a gyrocopter or build a scribble-bot at the Studio X open hours. On the main floor, aspiring engineers can build a city out of Protopipe and LEGO bricks. Then, explore the Craveology Cafe by munching down a sandwich, salad or snack.

The Fleet Science Center
Balboa Park
1875 El Prado
San Diego, Ca
Online: rhfleet.org

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The Natural History Museum

Inspire an interest in science and the world around them at The Natural History Museum. Coming this summer, young kids (age six and under) can explore The Backyard exhibit where they can climb a giant ladybug and learn more about the natural world and how we co-exist with wildlife in our own yards. On the other hand, bigger kids can use science tools to discover dinosaurs and the California coast.

San Diego Natural History Museum
Balboa Park
1788 El Prado
San Diego, Ca
619-232-3821
Online: sdnhm.org

photo: USS Midway Museum

USS Midway Museum

Technology, physics and math keep the USS Midway running. Go below the deck to see the engine room and main control area that guided this battleship. Even more, step above deck to view the restored aircraft––a feat in technology. Kids can also see how pilots land safely on the Midway with the Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System. When little engineers get hungry, head to the Fantail Cafe for a bite to eat––like pizza and a fresh cup of coffee for you.

USS Midway Museum
910 North Harbor Dr.
San Diego, Ca
619-544-9600
Online: midway.org

Maritime Museum

Yo Ho! Technology, engineering and math applied to the ocean. Learn how steam-powered ships came to be. View the history of map charting and how explorers found their way into the new world. Finally, get hands-on with the technology of the sail and its history too. Likewise, there are many majestic vessels plus a great view of the San Diego Bay. All while learning about the history and science of ships with the crew!

Maritime Museum of San Diego
1492 N. Harbor Dr.
San Diego, Ca
619-234-9153
Online: sdmaritime.org

photo: SD Air & Space Museum

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Blast off and truly elevate your little one's interest in air, space and technology at this Balboa Park museum. Start with sitting in a real cockpit and fiddling with the electronics. Likewise, don a space helmet and head into outer space. Expose your little aviation expert to the history of airplanes and spaceships. Even more, if you go on a weekend, eat at the Flight Path Grill and check out modern day aircraft that's coming in for a landing just overhead.

San Diego Air & Space Museum
2001 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, Ca
619-234-8291
Online: sandiegoairandspace.org

photo: Kelly Powell

San Diego Children's Discovery Museum

Explore STREAM at the San Diego Children's Museum for integrated learning through hands-on play.  To fully engage kids, they add art and reading to STEM activities. Be sure to head to the Outdoor Art Studio from 12:15-1:15 p.m. for the STREAM stations. You'll find a station for each subject area and free flow from one to the next. Save time to explore the rest of the museum at your leisure.

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
320 N. Broadway
Escondido, Ca
760-233-7755
Online: sdcdm.org

The Ocean Institute

Follow the sea for STEM learning at the Ocean Institute. Weekday learning opportunities are more limited than the weekend, but both are fun. The weekdays have a theme like Mammal Mondays or Tide Pool Tuesdays, so pick a day that interests your crew. Likewise, kids dissect a squid in the science lab. Or, if your kiddos are younger, they can get hands-on in the Discovery touch pool. On weekends the whole museum is open for everyone to explore. Even more, there are jellyfish at different life stages, activities, and plenty of hands-on learning.

Ocean Institute
24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr.
Dana Point, Ca
949-496-2274
Online: ocean-institute.org

photo: Discovery Cube

Discovery Cube

Feel the heat of blast off at the Boeing Rocket Exhibit. Budding astronauts can land a rover on a mission to Mars. Likewise, there are plenty of hands-on STEM activities to explore at the Discovery Cube. Plus, learn how a dinosaur eats, or about the math and technology behind an earthquake. A great place for STEM inspiration and learning!

Discovery Cube
Orange County
2500 N Main St.
San Diego, Ca
714-543-2823
Online: discoverycube.org

San Diego Libraries

Local libraries have tons of STEM classes that engage kids in hands-on learning (and it's usually free)! For example, The City of Carlsbad has Science Saturdays and a STEAM room for school-age kids. For instance, kids can view real NASA Lunar samples. Carmel Mountain Ranch Library offers STEAM classes too. Check the library near you for events and classes!

Dove Library
Carlsbad City Library
1775 Dove Lane
760-602-2047
Online: carlsbadlibrary.org

Carmel Mountain Ranch Library
12095 World Trade Dr.
San Diego, Ca
858-538-8181
Online: sandiego.librarymarket.com/steam-night-library-25

Where do you take your kids for STEM inspiration? Tell us about it below.

––Nikki Walsh

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