Exploration Portal

Children’s Discovery Museum’s Exploration Portal is a 4,000 sq. ft. nature-themed educational play space, and its location is ideal for environmental education: adjacent to an important ecological zone along the Guadalupe River that is home to a multitude of flora and fauna and within a densely urban site, bordered by a heavily trafficked city street, below an elevated section of Hwy 87, and directly underneath the landing path for the San Jose airport. 

It’s also next to Bill’s Backyard, CDM’s half-acre nature play space where children learn about the natural world by climbing, digging, building forts, stacking rocks, discovering insects, touching plants, and seeing birds and butterflies abound.

Learn more about Exploration Portal.


Development of eight interactive exhibits for children to discover the fascinating patterns and symmetry found in nature, from the designs on animal furs and spirals on snails’ shells, to the systematic arrangement of leaves on a stem and the architecture of beehives. The exhibits encourage children to look closely, play with sequence and proportion, and explore myriad patterns in the world around us. Interpretive signage offers information to adults about environmental infrastructure features, educational content and the Guadalupe River in three languages: English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Sculptural Entry Arch, comprised of 2- and 3-D representations of plants and animals with interesting patterns, sets the stage for what visitors will discover inside.

Beehive Climber invites children to climb on, over and through the hexagon pattern of its architecture to immerse their full bodies in a familiar pattern in nature.

Patterns Everywhere features ten 2′, 3′ and 4′ circular magnifications of common patterns like seeds on a strawberry and scales of a fish. A cutout circle reveals the object at normal scale.

Symmetry Viewers, 4 large-scale kaleidoscopes with varying shaped viewing windows allow visitors to investigate objects in the space and create patterns of their own.

Rocks that Sing, stone Xylophone-style instruments, fascinate visitors with the melodic sounds created when struck with a mallet so that children can “hear” the beauty of nature.

Whirling Flyers feature familiar objects from both the natural and created worlds, and how they fly at different altitudes.

Measure Me! focuses visitors on their own bodies to explore human symmetry: our wingspan equals our height, our forearm equals the length of our foot, and more.

Bronze Animals and Insects, with distinctive patterns placed throughout the space, support children’s development of empathy and caretaking of the natural world.

Mechanical Solar Flower offers a hand-crank at kid-level that opens and closes the petals of a flower covering a solar panel in the center. An LED meter on the wall nearby helps track results as they expose the center panel to the sun.

Learn more about Exploration Portal.