This past Friday, I paid a visit to the California Science Center near our friendly rivals to the east, USC.

Originally, the purpose of my visit was to check out this one thing: an interactive map on this huge multi-touch, multi-user table featuring a Google Map/Flickr mashup that allow visitors to toggle between overlays and thematic areas, to understand how different phenomenons like fire shaped the landscape of the LA metro area:
Screen shot of the multitouch Google/Flickr mashup showing vegetation patterns in the LA Basin

Unfortunately, the table was down on my visit, which was the day after the exhibit’s opening. This, for me, was a huge let down since I’d been psyched about this for awhile!

However, there was a transportation zone as a part of the museum’s Creative World exhibit.

I am ecstatic to be checking out the transportation exhibit of the California Science Center!

YAY – I am ecstatic!

The interactive exhibits help people understand concepts like braking, the consequences of oil dependence, and how cycling works.

High wire bicycle

Some love shown to bikes!

I was humored / disappointed by the limited attention paid to public transit and carpool in the exhibit. There were just three one-minute videos, all seemingly made in the early 90s and wildly outdated, limited to one box in a corner.

Anddddd TDM / alternative transportation is relegated to this corner
The video on public transit was the most obviously oudated; it claimed that there would be 200,000 electric cars on the road by the year 2003. The boyfriend, an expert on climate change planning, told me that never happened.

And I thought it was kind of funny/bizarre/creepy that the video on “driving alone” had this melodramatic background music:

So I wasn’t terribly shocked to see all of the space alloted to the sale of transportation toys in the museum gift shop, such as cars and airplanes, but not Metro Bus Matchbox toys (yes, they really do exist.)

Parking for toy cars

And my personal favorite:

And wtf, the gift shop sells toy Hummers.

Some people on Yelp complained it was childish; um, that is the POINT. But I was really bummed to see how outdated the transportation zone was. The philanthropy arm of Toyota paid for the exhibit, and I know that these are tough economic times, but if they ever have an RFP ever again, I think updating this exhibit would be a great idea.