Whether grounded with their hands in the earth of an ecosystem exhibit, seeing stars in a space display, or submerged in an aquarium tunnel surrounded by kelp, kids were provided with plenty of hands-on exploration as they visited the massive 400,000 square foot California Science Center last week.

Three children experiment with water and sand at the California Science Center’s River Zone exhibit. | Ciara Lunger
Three children experiment with water and sand at the California Science Center’s River Zone exhibit. | Ciara Lunger
Onlookers take in the scale of space shuttle Endeavor. | Marisa Zocco
Onlookers take in the scale of space shuttle Endeavor. | Marisa Zocco
Visitors pass by the California Science Center on a sunny 88 degree day. | Michelle Meyer
Visitors pass by the California Science Center on a sunny 88 degree day. | Michelle Meyer

The space is filled with science and technology used to gain understanding of anywhere from beyond the Earth's atmosphere to as deep as the planet's sea floor.

On the second floor of the California Science Center, visitors pass by the Apollo-Soyuz command module. | Nahui Garcia
On the second floor of the California Science Center, visitors pass by the Apollo-Soyuz command module. | Nahui Garcia

The 188,000-gallon kelp beds proved to be a popular space for youngsters to dive into observing the plants and creatures of the ocean.

A family admires fish at the Kelp Forest in the California Science Center. | Kimberly Rogers
A family admires fish at the Kelp Forest in the California Science Center. | Kimberly Rogers
Two little friends point out their favorite fishes together. | Tara Malekzadeh
Two little friends point out their favorite fishes together. | Tara Malekzadeh

Some children observed the plethora of of learning experiences as being perhaps a touch fishy, while others nestled up close, anxious to participate.

A young boy stares at the star fish at the Science Center petting pools. | Marina Pena
A young boy stares at the star fish at the Science Center petting pools. | Marina Pena
Children look at a turkey vulture in the California Science Center’s Extreme Zone exhibit. | Ciara Lunger
Children look at a turkey vulture in the California Science Center’s Extreme Zone exhibit. | Ciara Lunger
Parent chaperones and young students huddle around a window to peer into a tortoise burrow. | Marisa Zocco
Parent chaperones and young students huddle around a window to peer into a tortoise burrow. | Marisa Zocco

At the end of a day engaging nearly all the senses, the positive experience that the California Science Center provided its visitors was reflected in the expressions of their faces.

The excitement of interacting with a SCUBA diver shines reflected in the curved surface of the sea kelp tunnel walls. | Marisa Zocco
The excitement of interacting with a SCUBA diver shines reflected in the curved surface of the sea kelp tunnel walls. | Marisa Zocco