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Two museum events that'll turn your kids into space cadets

SAT 5/10

Between the winter rain and the summer fog, Bay Area youngsters don't get to see a lot of the stars and planets. So two local museums are trying to clear the skies for them this weekend. At the California Academy of Sciences' Astronomy and Space Day, families can take part in out-of-this-world events that include touching a 4-billion-year-old meteorite and stepping inside an inflatable planetarium. Better yet, kids can leave with their own souvenirs, like birthday moon ornaments and paper-cup planetariums. Activities take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. and Concourse streets in Golden Gate Park. Admission is free-$8.50; call 750-7145.

Not to be outdone, Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science hosts its Astronomy Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event features hands-on activities designed to teach children about the mysterious objects that share our sky. Stargazers can search the heavens using telescopes, handle specially designed sun-spotters, and make sun prints using treated paper, all led by research astronomers from Cal's Space Sciences Laboratory. Early arrivers get a free lithograph of the Hubble Space Telescope. The museum is located at the intersection of Centennial and Grizzly Peak on the UC Berkeley campus. Admission is free-$8; call (510) 642-5132. -- Jack Karp

He Can Fix It
Bob the Builder digs S.F.

FRI-SUN 5/9-11

Bob the Builder and his gang of machines -- among them Scoop the digger, Muck the dump truck, Dizzy the cement mixer, Lofty the crane, and Roley the steamroller -- have, uh, built quite a fan base among the preschool set.

Since their debut on English television, Bob and his BBC brethren have been on a mission to take over American kids' airwaves: no more androgynous teddy bear-like creatures that no one can understand. Bob's live show has already hit No. 1 with a bullet on the mommies' and daddies' must-see list. The program features enough characters to provide a full-scale assault on your wallet, and this time the crew is going after the big money -- accessories. Books, toys, party favors, and an entire bedroom setup will have parents calling down curses on Bob's construction-hatted head. But you know you'll give in: He's just soooo cute! See Bob and all his friends at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Cow Palace, Geneva & Santos, Daly City. Call 421-8497. -- Andrea Goode

Art Class
So much art, so little time

SAT-TUES 5/10-13

Arts education is usually the first thing to go when budget cuts loom. But thanks to the fund-raising savvy of parents and educators, not all schools have had their music and arts programs decimated. Witness the Youth Arts Festival, a nine-day extravaganza featuring the work of students from the city's K-12 public, private, and parochial schools.

It kicks off Saturday with an "Opening Day Spectacular" that includes a visual art exhibition showcasing the handiwork of future Picassos and the Arte Di Gesso Chalk Mural Project, a chalk-art painting created by high-schoolers. The fest runs through May 18 at Zeum, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), and at Yerba Buena Gardens, Third & Mission streets. Visit -- Lisa Hom

Eat Dirt

SAT 5/10

Kids love dirt. They also love to put things into their mouths that most adults would never dream of touching. During "Tales of a Trail," youngsters can visit a place where the residents not only encourage this behavior, but do it themselves. Curious crawlers will learn how the many-legged creatures that live along the Presidio's Bay Area Ridge Trail eat, nest, and hide. The excursion departs at 1 p.m.; call 561-7752. -- Jack Karp


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