Inside the Totally Awesome Lawrence Hall of Science with Gretchen Walker

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We’re big fans of any place that takes on the challenge of making science fun and accessible for our kiddos and The Lawrence Hall of Science goes above and beyond. With hands-on educational activities, thoughtfully-tailored exhibits, and more, The Lawrence Hall of Science provides programs that engage all students in science across learning environments. This fantastic Berkeley resource was your Totally Awesome pick for best kid-friendly museum in the Bay Area, and we can see why. Gretchen Walker, Director of the Public Science Center, recently took the time to chat with us about what makes The Lawrence Hall of Science special, how she got involved, and more. Read on:

Red Tricycle: Congratulations on being voted “Most Awesome” by your community! What do you think your customers value most about your business?

Gretchen Walker: I think our customers most value the opportunity to have a truly interactive experience as a family. Here at the Hall, we have experiences that invite your whole family to step into the shoes of a scientist and engineer. You have the opportunity to design, build, and test your own solutions to engineering challenges. You can stop and ask questions in a planetarium show. You can divert rivers, meet animals, and look back at the Earth from outer space. Everything is designed to give you the opportunity to explore together, and to really get that quality fun time as a family.

RT: What inspired you to get involved with the Hall?

GW: I’m a science center director because it was a visit to a planetarium when I was eight that inspired me to go on and study astronomy in college. Things that happen outside of school are hugely important in helping kids develop their own interests. I want to be a part of inspiring other kids with a lifelong interest in science.

RT: Can you give us one tip for balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood?

GW: Find ways to include your kids in what you do. The great thing about my job is that my four year old daughter can understand and enjoy some of it. While most of my job really is meetings and spreadsheets, there are lots of times when I need to come in to the Hall on weekends for a special event. Sydney likes to tag along and see what new fun things there are to do at Mommy’s museum.

RT: What is your proudest moment as a business owner or parent?

GW: My proudest moment is both as a museum director and as a parent. This summer, we opened Design Quest, a new exhibition that lets everyone design, build, and test everything from stop motion movies to cars to shoes—it’s the culmination of work we’ve been doing to provide repeatable, open-ended experiences that are both educational and cross-generational. I went into the exhibition to meet my daughter and her grandparents who were enjoying an afternoon together waiting for me to finish up work. Sydney ran up to me and said “Mom! Mom! Mom! Check out this awesome superpower shoe that Nana and I invented.”  She and her grandmother were both smiling from ear to ear and covered in bits of tape, scraps of paper, and pen marks.

RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?

GW: We’d like to offer Red Tricycle readers the opportunity to come visit and have a hands-on science adventure. Readers can get a pass for one free youth admission with a paying adult. Visit to claim and print your pass. Use code “MostAwesome”. Please note: Youthpass is for ages 3–18, and must be claimed by12/31/2013.

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