This past weekend we spent a day at university for UC Berkeley's annual Cal Day.
Cal Day is always a fun day for families in the Bay Area. The university opens its doors to the public to show off life on campus. There are plenty of activities and information booths geared towards prospective students (which Ava hopes to be one day) but there are also lots of fun kid friendly activities and displays. The girls got to play in campus police cars, make nature themed crafts, take part in science experiments, create catapults and balloon powered cars, pat snakes, lizards and sea creatures, play scientist in a lab, and meet Cal mascot, Oski Bear. What a busy day!
One of our favorite things about Cal Day is watching the cheerleaders, dancers and marching band perform. Unfortunately this year we arrived as they were performing and were unable to pass through Sather Gate to watch the performance due to a protest blocking the way. By the time we made our way around the protest (which was not easy with a stroller) the performance had finished. The girls were pretty upset as they always enjoy watching the cheerleaders but they were pleased to see the marching band on the go as we approached Sproul Plaza. Plus Oski Bear was still hanging around and they were pretty happy to see him! Mathilde was a little nervous to meet him, but as long as I was with her she was happy to give him a high five. He's a little bigger than the Oski Bear plush toy that we search for in our local Trader Joe's!
The girls enjoyed seeing the campus police vehicles on display and had fun play in them - and on them. They always like sitting on the police motorbikes, but playing in the police car is always their favorite. The girls took it in turns being the police officer behind the wheel, with the radio and all of those fun buttons, and the bad guy locked up in the back.
We then made our way towards the Valley Life Sciences building where there are always lots of fun activities and displays for kids. Along the way we stopped by the physics departments stand to have a little fun with electricity. The guys working the stand were all pretty impressed by how much Lola's hair stood up when she touched the electrical ball. Trust me, this was nothing compared to how much her hair stood up one day after going down a slide at a nearby park! You can see her hair here.
Outside the Valley Life Sciences building, the girls checked out caterpillars, cocoons, and insect eating plants before making their own paper butterfly rings. I was quite impressed when Mathilde decided to copy Ava and draw eyes on her butterfly's wings. It was the first time I've ever seen her draw something that actually looked like what it was supposed to be! Well, kind of. They were definitely circles.
Ava and Lola then moved on to making balloon powered paper cars which they then raced down a slope.
Then there were marshmallow catapults made out of popsicle sticks and a plastic spoon. While Ava tried to shooter her marshmallows are far as possible, Lola focused on trying to shoot them into her mouth!
We then headed inside the Valley Life Sciences building for a little hands on fun with sea creatures. The girls always love seeing the starfish, sea urchins, crabs, sea cucumbers, and other squishy underwater creatures. Mathilde was pretty excited to get her hands on the starfish and sea urchin. She is used to holding Ava's pet leopard gecko Cookie, so she is surprisingly gentle and careful when holding small creatures. She was definitely more careful than most of the bigger kids around her! Ava and Lola both held a starfish for a little bit but they were much more content to just look at the other creatures.
Ava and Lola are always keen to collect stamps in the science passports that are handed out to kids at Cal Day. So while Mathilde spent her time with the sea creatures, her big sisters went from stand to stand collecting stamps in their little passports.
Once Ava and Lola had collected stamps from every stand on the ground floor, we made our way upstairs to the fossil room to play with microscopes. The girls looked closely at small rocks and fossils to try and match them up to the pictures on a chart. Well, Ava and Lola did. Mathilde spent her time dusting the fossils with a paint brush!
We then made our way into the (incredibly busy) Museum of Vertebrate Zoology where there were plenty of skeletons and stuffed animals on display. There were also a few live animals for the kids to see as well. Mathilde was pretty excited to pat a bearded dragon, although I think she was a little annoyed that the man holding it wouldn't let her hold it by herself! The girls took part in a scavenger hunt in the museum and were all given a small animal toy at the end as their prize.
By now we were approaching the end of the day and decided to start heading home. We made one more quick stop however, when we spotted another scaly creature to pat. Mathilde looks a little afraid of the boa in this picture but she wasn't. She was told to sit with her hands on her knees before the snake was placed across her lap, and then although she desperately wanted to pat the snake, she didn't dare move her hands off her knees until she was told to!
It was a pretty hot day on Saturday, so we stopped off at Ben & Jerry's on the way home for a treat. Lola was pretty excited when she discovered that the chocolate chunks in her Phish Food ice cream were actually shaped like fish and she insisted that I take a photo!
Well, that was Cal Day for another year. We're already looking forward to next year's event - and this time we'll make sure to arrive a little earlier so we don't miss the cheerleaders in action. You can see the cheerleaders, dancers and marching band in action here.