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Wednesday 17 April 2019

Cal Day 2019

This past weekend we spent a day at UC Berkeley for the annual Cal Day event.

Cal Day is the university's open day, but it's not only for prospective students like you might think. While there is plenty on hand for students planning on attending Cal, it's also a day filled with fun activities for the whole the family. At Cal Day you'll find spirit rallies, musical performances, campus tours, booths from every club you could possibly imagine (and lots you would never imagine existed!), hands on science experiments, campus police displays, animals to pet, sporting events and so much more. In fact, there's so much on offer at Cal Day that's it's impossible to even see half of it.

As usual, we stuck to the activities that I always know will be a hit with the kids. We arrived on campus shortly before the spirit rally was due to begin. As we made our way to Sproul Plaza for the rally we could hear drums so we took a detour to check them out. At first I thought it was the percussionists from the marching band, but as we got closer we realized it was actually a taiko drumming group. Their performance was amazing so we stayed to watch and listen before making our way on to Sproul Plaza.

We arrived at Sproul Plaza just as the spirit rally was about to begin. The spirit rally is always my favorite part of Cal Day. It's one of those moments that really brings home that we're living in a foreign country. There really is nothing like it back home in Australia, so my only experience with spirit rallies growing up (and even as an adult) was through American television shows and movies. If you've never experienced a spirit rally, all I can say is, it really is just like what you see on screen! The cheerleaders, the dancers, the marching band and, of course, Oski Bear, Cal's mascot. It's such a fun event and it always makes me smile.

We then made our way through the busy plaza, checking out the stands from various different clubs and university groups (including the official quidditch team!) and grabbed some snacks and lunch. Mathilde's eating a mochi muffin in the pic below. If you've never had one, you have to try one. They are so good and have become one of our regular go to snacks when out and about in Berkeley.

We got into the Cal spirit after lunch with pom poms and giant flags - and just a little silliness!

Then it was time to check out the campus police vehicles. This is always a hit with the kids every year. They love sitting behind the wheel of the various police cars talking into the radio (or trying to listen to it in Mathilde's case) and take it in turns playing bad guy locked up in the back. This year there was a new "vehicle" to test out. I've never actually seen any campus police getting around on these wacky motorized scooters

From the campus police display we made our way towards the Valley Life Sciences Building where there are always lots of fun hands on sciences exhibits for the kids. On our way we found a giant origami crane (almost as tall as Ava!) and posed for more silly pictures, this time with the Campanile.

The girls checked out the science displays set up on the lawn outside the Valley Life Sciences Building. Mathilde had been keen to touch a brain again this year, and we were in luck as we arrived just as the brains were being packed away in their buckets. And yes, they're real human brains. Or "human bean brains" as Mathilde was calling them!

Making marshmallow catapults was also a hit with the kids. They made these out of popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, bulldog clips and a lot of masking tape.

We then headed into the Valley Life Sciences Building where there was plenty more science fun - this time of the animal and plant variety.

The dinosaur fossils are always a big hit at Cal Day. The paleontology museum housed in Valley Life Sciences Building is only open to the public on Cal Day as it is a research facility. Luckily, the building is open to the public year round with a t-rex and pterodactyl skeleton as the central display in the lobby and triceratops skulls visible through the windows.

In the enclosed courtyard the kids made a beeline straight for the icy wading pool that they knew would be filled with all sorts of sea creatures that they could pet. We found starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and crabs among others.

Our last stop on campus was the Herbarium where Mathilde collected plant samples, correctly identified them and earned a well deserved sticker.

Our day on campus for Cal Day always seems to fly by and before we knew it it was time to say goodbye and head home. On our way out we passed one of Mathilde's "friends". If you follow along on Instagram (especially in my stories) you'll be familiar with these little robots. If not, this guy is a Kiwi Bot, a food delivery robot that delivers take out around Downtown Berkeley and on campus. Mathilde is kind of obsessed and wants one of her own! She also has no idea that they don't exist everywhere else!

Another fun day on campus for Cal Day!

Have you been to Cal Day before? Or maybe an open day at another university? I love that Cal Day is such a family friendly event. It's great for the kids (and for us) to experience a little of what our city is all about.

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