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Saturday 29 April 2017

Cal Day 2017

Last Saturday the girls and I spent the day at UC Berkeley's annual open day, Cal Day.

Cal Day is one of our favorite local events each year and as always the girls had a ton of fun. While the main purpose of the event is to showcase the university to potential students, there are always plenty of family friendly activities for the local community to take part in too.

Just like the campus, the event is huge and there's no way you can see everything. I always make sure to plan in advance and work out which activities the kids will like best. We tend to stick to the area around the Valley Life Sciences where there are all sorts of fun science related activities for the kids. The performances in Sproul Plaza are always high on our list too. This year was no different.

We started the day outside Valley Life Sciences building where the girls built with blocks, drew pictures of what science means to them, made robots out of recycled materials, checked out reptiles and bugs, collected stamps in their Cal Day passports, and touch a real human brain. Yes, you read that last one correctly! Ava was freaked out at the idea of touching a real brain so she stuck to holding snakes instead, but both Lola and Mathilde (and a friend who spent the day with us) thought it was pretty fantastic. They put on over-sized disposable gloves and, with just a little trepidation, reached in to touch the brain on display. There were also sheep brains on display and Mathilde decided she liked these better as they were smaller. The kids were pretty grossed out when I told them that sheep brains were (apparently) my favorite food as a baby!  

After spending much time touching brains and building robots we headed towards Sproul Plaza for the Spirit Rally. Along the way we spotted Cal mascot Oski Bear hanging around Sather Gate and the kids were excited to go meet him, but they hung back when they noticed he was with the Speedo clad water polo team! Ha!

There were plenty more opportunities to see and meet Oski Bear though. We watched him dance with the drummers from the Cal Marching Band as they performed in Sproul Plaza. The kids thought this was pretty amazing - even if it was a little noisy for Mathilde at times.

We had a quick break for cotton candy and then it was time for the main part of the Spirit Rally.

I love watching the Spirit Rally at Cal Day as it's just the most American thing I could possibly think of. Australian universities (or schools) don't have major sporting teams with the accompanying marching bands and cheerleaders, so for me this is something straight out of an American tv show or movie rather than real life. The Spirit Rally started with the band, cheerleaders, dancers (there's a difference between the two, apparently) and Oski running through Sproul Plaza amid cheers. They assembled on the steps ready for the performance to start.

The performance was pretty cool. The cheerleaders (in white) and dancers (in blue) performed synchronized moves in front of the marching band while Oski strutted around. Giant Cal flags were waved on the side lines and there was a lot of cheering from the crowd. Such a fun thing to see. There was also a performance from a smaller dance troupe.

Once the Spirit Rally was over Oski hung around for photos. Mathilde wasn't quite so sure of him at first. She kept an eye on him the whole time the girls were posing for photos!

From the Spirit Rally we headed over the campus police display. This is always a favorite with the kids too as they get to play in different vehicles. The police motorbike was a big hit, as was the police car which Mathilde refused to leave. I'm glad they had the sirens turned off as she kept on pressing the "wail" button! Ava dressed up in a bullet proof jacket that weighed almost as much as Mathilde as well as a riot helmet. She looked pretty hilarious given how big it was on her!

We then made our way back through Sather Gate toward Valley Life Sciences, stopping to check out the Cal Marching Band's stand where the girls tried their hand a few different instruments and met a dove on a leash. Still not sure what the dove was there for but it was cute.

Oh, and the kids just had to pile on the bear statue that we passed on our way! This is always Mathilde's favorite spot to stop for a photo when we walk through the campus.

In the Valley Life Sciences building the girls touched sea creatures in a touch pool, checked out other sea creatures in aquariums, looked at animal skulls, spun a prize wheel, and, posed for fun dinosaur photos. You can bet that the dinosaurs were Mathilde's favorite part.

By now our day on campus was at an end. The girls had a fantastic day and were excited to stop at Ben & Jerry's for ice cream on the way home, just like we do every year.

Have you been to Cal Day before? I'd love to hear if you were there too.

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