If you’re looking for a day (or half day) out today in the greater Los Angeles area, let me suggest a trip up to the Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL). (Details here.) Their open house (held today and yesterday) is rather fun…. you get to learn about some of the grand space missions of yesteryear (like the 1977 Voyager missions… both craft are still actively sending data from beyond the solar system now), or of the moment (like Cassini-Huygens, for example sending wonderful pictures of Saturn and Titan back for us to learn from and marvel at – see e.g. here), or to come soon (like WISE (an infra-red telescope which will help broaden and deepen our understanding of planetary systems, galaxies, and the universe at large), or Dawn (a mission to go and orbit and study two large asteroids).
You can learn lots of things about the science these missions are teaching us about not only far away worlds, but about our own world. There are also missions which are studying earth directly (making observations about our atmosphere, oceans, and so forth), so even if you don’t care about space, there’s something for you.
You can visit special exhibits for each of the missions, talk to scientists and engineers, and even visit the large warehouses where the spacecraft are made, and where they are assembled. There are the control rooms to visit, a dome with giant robots (I’ve no idea about that one), an extra special exhibit about Mars exploration, and lots of stations with all sorts of entertainment for kids! They’ve done a great job providing a lot of material for everyone to take away, including packets of information for teachers to use in their classes too!