People have been inventing things since before recorded history--everything from the wheel to high-speed computers. A series of exhibits currently at the California Museum of Science and Industry highlights the themes of invention and creativity.
The "Invent Event" includes an exhibit of interactive, working models based on the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most prolific and insightful inventors of all time.
In his notebooks, written 450 years ago, da Vinci envisioned the helicopter, the parachute and the double-hulled ship. Models of a wire-testing device, a link chain drive and a double hull for a ship are included in the exhibit.
Also on display is the exhibit "America Creates," which traces 200 years of copyrights and patents from the Library of Congress and the Patent Office. Patents had a high priority for the founding fathers, who included such innovators as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
At the nearby California Afro-American Museum, contributions of African-Americans will be highlighted in an exhibit opening July 13. Items such as the traffic light, gas mask and shoe-lasting machine were inventions of African-Americans. The exhibit pays tribute to those inventors, as well as to the many slaves and African-American craftsmen.
The events run through Sept. 22. For Museum of Science and Industry information, (213) 744-7400. For the Afro-American Museum, (213-744-7432).
The rich marine life of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is the highlight of an exhibit at the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center in Ventura. Featuring information and maps of the area, the exhibit brings remote areas to those who have been unable to see them firsthand. Call (805) 966-7107.
A little farther up the coast, visitors to the "Touch Tank" exhibit at the Sea Center in Santa Barbara can get a close-up view of some of the creatures residing in the nearby waters, such as a keyhole limpet, which is said to look like a giant crawling eye. Call (805) 962-0885.
Some of the most impressive star clusters and nebulae can be seen in the summer night skies, and "Mid-Summer Evening Skies" will be the topic of the Moorpark College Astronomy Show on July 7 at 8:30 p.m. in the Charles Temple Observatory.
On Sunday, visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at the observatory at 8:30 p.m. Call (805) 378-1408.
SCIENCE FOR FAMILIES
Children ages 3 and 4 and their parents can learn about the environment in a class offered by Pierce College Extension for six Tuesdays beginning July 9. "Nature Walk for Tots" will visit different parks in the area to teach youngsters about nature. Early registration is advised. Call (818) 719-6425.
Paleontologist John Alderson will introduce adults and children to the geology and evolution of the Santa Monica Mountains in visits to various sites in a one-day class offered by the Wilderness Institute on Saturday. Call (818) 991-7327.
The identification of poisonous plants will be the focus of a class at the William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom on Saturday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Call (213) 858-3834.
Participants can learn about the coastal sage scrub and chaparral ecosystems in a field trip to the Chino Hills Land Conservancy on Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m. Reservations are required. Call (714) 996-5078.
Members of the Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society will introduce participants to the birds of Malibu Lagoon in a visit to the area on Sunday beginning at 8:30 a.m.
If mountain birds are more to your liking, Audubon Society members will lead a trip to the Big Bear Lake area on Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. Call (213) 876-0202.