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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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