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Last Monday, we drove to work a little after 7 a.m. and packed three vans full with the Pinoleville Youth Group. And before the clock struck 8 o’clock, off we went – towards the Golden Gate Bridge to catch a delightful day at the California Academy of Sciences. Before arriving to our final destination we made a quick stop in Santa Rosa to grab some more kids from the youth group. While we were stretching our legs, a pickup pulled in with a trunk chock-full of fruit, yogurt, and bagels. We grabbed breakfast and hit the road. We pulled up to the Academy of Science, parked the van and the kids just poured out and bee-lined for the entrance.
The Pinoleville Youth Group had kids from two years old up to eighteen years old, and the Academy had something for everyone. As we split into smaller groups, my group went straight for the Osher Rainforest. The Osher Rainforest is this massive, four-story glass dome with a spiraling staircase along it’s edge that brings you through the multiple levels of the rainforest: a Bornean forest floor, a Madagascan mid-story, and the canopy of a Costa Rican forest. Meanwhile, you’re surrounded with tropical flora and more than 1,600 animals residing within the dome. On the ground floor you’re welcomed by reptiles hiding in dark corners and when you look down you can peak into the Amazonian flooded forest below. As you begin walking up the pathway, you can spot blue morpho butterflies and poison dart frogs. At the top floor, there are free-flying birds – we saw a pair of Scarlet Macaws, some antbirds, and hummingbirds buzz by.
Then we dived down four floors in an elevator into the Amazonian flooded forest, an expansive aquarium where we saw a massive anaconda resting in a pool of water. There was also a tank full of electric eels with a coin sized button where you could test what it feels like to be shocked by one – it was electrifying. We kept going and wounded up within the Tunnel of Fish, a 25-foot long tube surrounded by the 100,000-gallon Amazonian tank. Here we watched the fish swimming all around us, and looked up into the Rainforest above.
There were many more exhibits that we continued to visit for the rest of the day including the Morrison Planetarium, the Discovery Tidepool, the Living Room, Water Planet, and Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet. When we were all collected together and eating dinner, the kids recollected their favorite exhibits and activities. Some loved the penguins, others liked the Earthquake Simulator, others really liked the albino alligator named Claude. At the end of the day, they all agreed that they were ready for the next Pinoleville Youth Group adventure.