SAN JOSE -- It's a chance to mix with the techies, delve into the world of science and technology and see just what makes Silicon Valley tick.
The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose is home to more than 240 unique hands-on experiences in its permanent galleries. These exhibits give visitors the opportunity to explore the world of machines, use their minds to become innovators by designing roller coasters, dissect microchips or even see themselves in the world of 3-D.
Another area of the museum's permanent collection is an adventure in exploration by taking an underwater robotic adventure, standing on an earthquake platform or guiding the manned maneuvering unit safely through space.
The newest area of the museum, the Tech Virtual Test Zone, opened in December 2007 and is where the museum will host virtual-world-to-real-world exhibits. The first themed exhibit for the test zone is "Art, Film & Music."
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Get your groove on as you conceptualize your own garage band, digitalize your own song and play on the musical wall.
To highlight art, the museum offers different views of the Silicon Valley landscape at the Tilty Table. Another exhibit offers the opportunity to use panoramic and polar projection to transform flat photos into 360-degree panoramas.
The Tech museum, a three level facility, is host to more than 400,000 visitors a year. While the permanent exhibits continue to please visitors, the museum also hosts visiting exhibits.
Beginning next Sunday and continuing through Jan. 4, "Leonardo: 500 Years into the Future" will be at The Tech. This is the world première of the largest, most comprehensive exhibit of the art, science and engineering feats of Leonardo da Vinci and his colleagues.
This exhibition will feature more than 200 artifacts, including drawings, sculptures and life-size models of the art all displaying the unity of art and science during the Renaissance period.
The Tech Museum of Innovation also is home to the 295-seat Hackworth IMAX Dome Theater, the only IMAX dome in Northern California. Admission to the museum includes one IMAX show. Visitors may enjoy diving deep to see "Sea Monsters," travel Earth's orbit in "Blue Planet," head west in "Lewis & Clark" or take an adventure in snowboarding, surfing and sky diving on "Adventures in Wild California."
Plan a stop in the Tech store for a tech gift or gadget. There is also a place to purchase food and snacks called Café Primavera. (Note: If bringing along a picnic lunch is more your style, the museum is located right across the street from César Chávez Park.)
It's the world of science, technology and adventure all rolled into one at the bright orange and purple building affectionately called The Tech.
WHERE: 201 S. Market St., the corner of Market and Park in downtown San Jose
WHEN: Daily 10 a.m to 5 p.m.
COST: $8 museum admission and one IMAX ticket. Additional IMAX ticket is available at a cost of $4.
GETTING THERE: Go west over the Altamont Pass (Interstate 580) and continue westbound to Dublin. Take Interstate 680 to San Jose. In San Jose, take Guadalupe Parkway (Highway 87) going north (right). Go one-fourth mile and turn right on Santa Clara Street. Go five lights to Market Street and turn right. Go two blocks. The Tech Museum is at the corner of Market and Park. Parking is not available at The Tech, however there is a city-owned garage 3 blocks away at the corner of San Carlos and Second Street and at the San Jose Convention Center. The Tech will validate parking, making the cost only $5 at the lots.
DRIVE TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes (MapQuest)
MORE INFORMATION: 408-294- 8324; www.thetech.org