Think your little one would like to peek under the hood of a real race car or step inside a beekeeper’s suit? Or maybe they would prefer to create a necklace modeled after a strand of their very own DNA. We’ve highlighted three exhibitions going on now that feature loads of interactive, hands-on extras sure to be a hit with everyone, from tots to teens to parents.

bee-childPhoto: Gerry Thomassen via Flickr

What’s All the Buzz About?
Get up close and personal with real bee specimens under a microscope, crawl through a human-sized beehive, and try on a beekeeper suit (kiddie sizes available!) at the Oakland Museum of California. Their newest exhibit, Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact runs through September 20 and explores the secret lives of our most popular (and important) pollinators. Check out real live—and occupied—bee hotels, see how honey is made and find out what you can do to help reverse population decline and keep the hives humming for generations to come.

OMCA
1000 Oak St.
Oakland, Ca
888-625-6873
Online: museumca.org

speed-exhibit-heroPhoto: Lawrence Hall of Science

Get Your Motor Running
Your little speed racer will be able to get behind the wheel of a Formula One racecar and put the pedal to the metal (in a simulator, of course) at the new exhibition at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. At SPEED: Science in Motion, opening this Saturday, February 7 and running through May 3, visitors will learn all about the science, engineering, and finesse involved in racing a 1,400-pound car at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. Kids will get to crawl over, under and into a full-scale replica Formula One Car, and learn how these speedy machines are designed to be aerodynamic—not to mention what “aerodynamic” really means. Little gear heads can practice changing a tire, building an engine piece by piece and see how these racers are actually pieces of technology as complex as their computers at home.

Lawrence Hall of Science
1 Centennial Dr.
Berkeley, Ca
510-642-5132
Online: lawrencehallofscience.org

genome exhibitPhoto: The Tech Museum of Innovation

Become a DNA Detective
Ever wondered why you look so much more like your great Uncle Leonard than your own dad? No, it probably isn’t because of some scandalous family tryst (we hope), but instead due to the mysterious and complex behavior of DNA. Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code runs through April 27 at San Jose’s Tech Museum of Innovation helps unravel the complexities of genetics, and breaks it all down in fun and fascinating ways that the whole family will be able to understand. Be sure and visit the Genome Zone, just beyond the main exhibit, where hands-on activities include making a DNA necklace using your own DNA, studying your DNA under a microscope. Stanford graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and scientists from the biotech industry will be on hand to answer any questions, and explain how your genome is actually a roadmap that can help you trace your ancestral past and take charge of your future health.

The Tech Museum of Innovation
201 South Market St.
San Jose, Ca
408-294-8324
Online: thetech.org

Do you know of any other must-see exhibitions happening in the Bay Area? 

—Erin Feher