The California Academy Of Sciences

The California Academy Of Sciences

On March 23, 2016, we the MarinSEL class of 2017, visited the California Academy of Sciences. Taking a step back from our playhouse projects, we took a look at modern engineering and environmental sciences in practice on a larger scale. The Academy of Sciences provided our class with a tour of the newly remodeled building, and first access to the planetarium show room. Join me in this article to hear about our experience, and the valuable information we learned.

I was fortunate enough to be in a group with with my teacher, Ms. Oropallo, and a very enthusiastic tour guide named Marilyn. We were first given background information about the architect and engineer, Renzo Piano. The experienced Italian architect was chosen to develop plans for the building to maximize efficiency and sustainability.

Marilyn highlighted all the aspects of the efficient building design, starting with the natural lighting. She explained the building took on a floor to ceiling glass layout that allows visitors to see Golden Gate Park from almost anywhere in the museum. We also learned that the German imported glass reduces heat absorption which makes it more efficient when cooling the building.

Our tour next took us to the living roof. The California Academy of Sciences is distinctly unique with its soil mounds on the roof acting as a natural insulation. The roof, or ruf as Marilyn liked to call it, was also populated with native plants, serving as a habitat for birds, butterflies, and bees of course! The glass circles on the roof, apparently called louvers, open and close automatically to provide fresh air and cooling, as well as natural sunlight for the rainforest below. And let me tell you the controlled climate of the rainforest was hot!

The final sustainable aspect of the building we had the pleasure of being educated about was the museum’s contribution to renewable energy. Surrounding the living roof was an impressive solar canopy. Although it does not provide enough energy to supply the entire facility, it is responsible for preventing the release of greenhouse gas emissions, a problem concerning not just San Francisco, but our entire planet.



My name is Kenny Mack and I am a member of the 2017 MarinSEL Engineering class.

21 Responses

  1. esmith says:

    Great blog! I loved the field trip too, but I loved how you described some of the aspects of the building that often go unnoticed by regular museum-goers.

  2. epowers says:

    Great field trip!

  3. kwaterbury says:

    Great photos! I’m glad you made it a point to focus on the roof. I thought that was one of the most complex topics of the field trip.

  4. sstilson says:

    You were right, that field trip was awesome! I really liked how you described the living roof.

  5. lukastroller says:

    I enjoyed this trip as much as you did. Thanks for the recollection; it was very insightful!

  6. jgirgurina says:

    You did a great job of remembering all the details about the building, and I laughed when you added in the part about how Marilyn pronounced the word “roof”.

  7. gelias says:

    I love that you actually payed attention to what she was saying! such a good memory!

  8. sremedios says:

    It’s really cool how you specifically hone in on what your tour guide was saying to you guys. Amazing photos and really well written.

  9. cameronch says:

    You really went into detail with your post. I was with you on the tour and you included all the aspects Marilyn talked about. Good job Ken-Dog 🙂

  10. mmcdaniel says:

    I totally agree! Learning about the living roof was super cool. I hope our class has another field trip like that!

  11. juliana.swanson says:

    The visuals you included are a nice touch. The living roof was stunning. Such a fun, yet educational, fieldtrip.

  12. mjames says:

    Wow! I didn’t know about German imported glass that reduces heat absorption, It sounds like a very cool concept.

  13. nslanec nslanec says:

    I’m impressed you remembered all those names and facts from the trip. It was truly an awe-inspiring experience.

  14. eschultz says:

    Mr. Mack, I was with you on the field trip and your blog entry really captured all the point our tour guide made. I laughed out loud at the part where you mentioned Marilyn’s pronunciation of the word “roof.” I like your enthusiasm about the controlled climate in the internal rainforest too.

  15. apham says:

    Comparing modern engineering to the engineering in your class is interesting. Now people will know that the students in this class are learning different types of engineering.

  16. ercharlton says:

    I agree, it was so cool learning about the living roof and it’s louvers!

  17. hnorman says:

    Kenny, outstanding job as usual. Your attention to detail shows in how well your writing is displayed. Marilyn sounds like a real character, wish I didn’t have the oaks poison and could have experienced this journey along side my pals. Good work.

  18. hunterbiel says:

    Very well written, informational, and really engages the reader. I did not know that Renzo Piano designed and renovated the building. I also did not know that the glass all throughout the building reduces heat absorption and helps with the cooling of the building. Great job kenwa you hit this one out of the park.

  19. nbarrolaza says:

    So true! Learned a lot, and had a lot of fun!!!

  20. ameshcheryakov says:

    Sounds like you had a fun and educational time!

  21. mkrizek says:

    Was a really fun and educational day! Hope to have another one soon.

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