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“Gorgeous location full of great activities for the kids!”

Lawrence Hall of Science
Ranked #7 of 87 things to do in Berkeley
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The Lawrence Hall of Science is UC Berkeley's Public Science Center. Join us and discover your inner scientist through fun and hands-on explorations in engineering, physics, astronomy, and more! Visit the Hall's Science on a Sphere® and take control of a planet on a 6-ft diameter globe, meet an animal friend in the Animal Discovery Room, and design, build, and test your own creations in Design Quest. Looking for even more ways to explore science? Add a Planetarium or National Geographic 3D Theater show to your visit (Planetarium and 3D Theater admission is extra).
Useful Information: Stairs / lift, Baby buggy parking, Wheelchair access, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase
Reviewed 15 July 2014

I was visiting a friend and we brougth our collective 5 kids up here (from 7-2 years old). When I arrived at the top of the hill and saw the long dinosaur sculpture/statue, I remembered coming here on a field trip as a kid. The kids spent about half an hour just climbing on the DNA structure and the dinosaur. Once inside, they spent another twenty minutes pushing the pins on the wall to make shapes. When we were there, they had this incredible animatronic bug exhibit that had great interactive explanations of all the giant creatures. They loved the outside area with the water, which was also a great place to have a picnic in the sun. They spent another hour building with the Keva blocks - incredibly creative and imaginative play. I absolutely loved this part of the museum. The cafeteria has a great view over the city and the bay and they have terrific food options. There was also a workshop where they built lego cars with motors. A really wonderful museum for kids - highly recommend.

Thank Jmarshall95678
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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64 - 68 of 151 reviews

Reviewed 15 July 2014

Our visit:
We took our children here at an early age because of “their fascination” with getting into things with their hands. This place offered a lot of “hands on science exhibits,” which both of our children took an immediate liking to and spent hours running from one exhibit to the next.

The only time we took a break was for lunch, and then it was back visiting and spending more time at the exhibits. We spent many hours at the insect zoo, animal discovery room, as well as the ingenuity lab trying to solve puzzles to answering questions relating to the universe.

The many exhibits this place offered kept the children stimulated both mind and body and by the time we left, late in the afternoon, both kids were fast asleep from taxing their brains all day.

On 8th August, 1901, Ernest Orlando Lawrence was born in Canton, South Dakota. His parents, Carl Gustavus and Gunda (née Jacobson) Lawrence, were the children of Norwegian immigrants, his father being a Superintendent of Schools.

Growing up, his mother always worried about Lawrence’s inability at gaining weight and his childhood nickname was "Skinny," even though he would grow to just over six feet tall and weigh about 180 pounds most of his adult life. She also worried about Lawrence’s incessant curiosity, playing with matches at the age of two, he set fire to his clothes and was saved by his mother in the nick of time.

His best friend, Merle Tuve, also became a highly accomplished nuclear physicist. As children, they constructed a very early short wave radio transmitting station and later, Lawrence would later apply his short-wave radio experiences to the acceleration of protons.

Lawrence started his college career as a premed student, but switched to physics under the guidance of Dean Lewis Akeley. He tutored Lawrence privately and sent him to the University of Minnesota.

In 1919, he attended the University of South Dakota, receiving a B.A. in Chemistry.

In 1922, he earned his M.A. from the University of Minnesota.

In 1925, he spent a year at the University of Chicago doing physics and was awarded his Ph.D. from Yale University.

Even as he accepted an assistant professorship at Yale, Lawrence was being courted by U.C. Berkeley, which was most anxious to develop its small physics department. While a professor at Yale he courted a Vassar undergraduate named Mary "Molly" Blummer, who happened to be the daughter of the dean of the Yale Medical School.

In 1928, he was appointed Associate Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and two years later he became Professor, being the youngest professor at Berkeley.

In 1930, Ernest Orlando Lawrence, worked at the University of California and barely two years after his arrival, invented the prototype of the cyclotron called the “Atom Smasher.” This invention garnered him international fame which coincidentally, started out as a sketch on a scrap of paper.

Since 1931, Lawrence and his team had occupied a two-story, clapboard-sided wooden building that had been constructed in 1902. This was the first of the modern labs in which experimentalists could choose to collaborate on joint projects or work on their own research.

In May 1932, Lawrence and Molly were married.

In 1936, he became Director of the University's Radiation Laboratory as well, remaining in these posts until his death.

In 1939, Lawrence became the first person to win a Nobel Prize in Physics and for work done entirely on a U.C. campus. He was also the first professor from a public university as well as the first native of South Dakota to do so.

He went on to build one of the world’s greatest scientific laboratories on the Berkeley campus, the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

In 1940, the Rockefeller Foundation pledged $1.4 million to fund a "giant cyclotron," as Lawrence called it, with a magnet face 184 inches in diameter on the hillside above the Berkeley campus.

In 1948, the Soviet Union exploded its first nuclear device and Lawrence was drawn into President Truman's decision to build a thermonuclear or "H" bomb.

By 1952, Lawrence lobbied for and won approval to establish a second national weapons laboratory at Livermore.

By 1958, Lawrence, having been a key figure in releasing the nuclear genie from the bottle, became a key figure in trying to put it back.

On Aug. 27, 1958, at the age of 57, Ernest Lawrence died. He was survived by Molly and their six children, John Eric, Margaret, Mary, Robert, Barbara, and Susan. He had won virtually every major award in his field.

In 2003, his widow, Molly Lawrence, chose the Lawrence Hall of Science to house his 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics.

On March 1, 2007, the Nobel Prize medal was missing from its locked display case. The prize was recovered and a student was arrested on suspicion of grand theft. A “replica of the Ernest Lawrence Nobel Prize” now resides in the museum display case.

Thank Holdtheair
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 May 2014

This is the most amazing view of Berkeley and the bay. Don't miss the tour. Tour guide, tall girl, Kate, was so sweet & helpful.

1  Thank mommaonthegogo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 April 2014

We took a shuttle from UC Berkeley to here which is located on a hill. It is more for kids than adults but we did have fun. The views from up here are awesome!

2  Thank KCJ44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 April 2014

A wide array of presentations which provide hands on experience for a variety of sciences. In addition to trying out different physics demonstrations, build block structures, sail boats in the outdoor water strucures and play with the animals.

Thank Clubsecretary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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