Upon arrival, the first thing you will see is a real Titan II rocket engine, generously donated by Aerojet Rocketdyne and Powerhouse Science Center.
The center is based inside an old Farm House at Mase Ranch and is sponsored by the Yolo Solano Air Quality District, which provided a grant to help build the place. The surrounding park provides the building with a homey and inviting aura.
From there, the center dives into the respiratory system, where stereoscopes are pre-loaded with slides of healthy and diseased lung tissue.
After checking in at the front, you will see an air quality display where anyone can look up the AQI and the history of past seasonality patterns to the air quality.
“I think opening up the Science center again is one step back to what the new normal is going to be,” said the center’s program director Emily Anderson. “It’s thrilling to be back. All of the staff here are for informal education. If we don’t have people in the building, it’s really depressing with the lights out, and it is so quiet. So just to hear the laughing and the fun in the building brings our energy back.”
Made out in Racho Cordova as a part of the Gemini Two Missions, the engine was donated to Explorit after needing a new home. While it never went to space, the rocket was test-fired here on earth to ensure its proficiency.
“All the stations are engaging and hands-on as well,” Anderson said. “It’s not just reading text and looking at pictures. You actually have to do things to make the science center come alive here.”
In the same room, you can find what constitutes healthy soil and an exhibit on erosion. Right outside, within view, patrons can see the new pollinator garden planted by master gardeners highlighting certain plants to bring in pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds.
Following the garden, you can see an exhibit on what kinds of foods these little creatures help produce. Notice a theme? A lot of the exhibits connect indirectly.
“The development process takes a little bit of time to put the displays together,” Anderson. ” We have been brainstorming it, so once we got the partnership with the air quality management district, then we wanted to hook into and connect air quality throughout the whole exhibit. So we have just been picking pieces that work together here.” Anderson has high hopes for the center coming out of the pandemic. First, she hopes to reconnect with the formal education system in Davis either by going out to classrooms or having classrooms come to the center.
“Our next how can we do that safely during the COVID time,” Anderson said. “We also just want the community to know we are open again,” She continued. “Like with so many businesses, when you have been closed for so long, you kind of get forgotten about, and we are kinda off the road. So we just want people to know we are here, we are still engaged, we want people to come over, we have air purifiers and hand sanitizer, and we require masks”.
“I think what you need to expect is that we are welcoming to all ages and abilities,” Anderson said. “If you know a lot about science. Suppose you don’t know about science. You’re going to find something here for you. Explorit has a real Multi-generation appeal. Grandparents, parents, even students from the university can come over and have fun as well.” In another room, there is a discovery den for younger kids. Basic toys and scientific specimens that are safe to handle fill the room and adds a multigenerational vibe to the place. You can bring your whole family and find something here to be entertained. Tarantulas, snakes, and a tidy little aquarium are right outside.