Best of the Bay 2012: BEST LABORATORY FOR MOLE-DING YOUNG MINDS

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There's a frozen fox in the fridge, an assortment of snakes on the sideboard, and a hedgehog hunkered down in a little pen. There are gadgets whirring and vibrating, measuring the cacophony from a caboodle of broken-down instruments. There are pulleys and levers and bells and whistles and plenty of chemicals that make a good bang. And at the Mission Science Workshop, there's no slab coat required — just a healthy dose of curiosity. Founder Dan Sudran encourages kids of diverse backgrounds to squish, mold, spin, and explore — whether it's making giant cardboard strands of DNA; playing with vacuums and electromagnets; or assembling your very own vermin from individual containers filled with teeny-tiny pelvises, scapulae, and spines at the Build-a-Mole station — batteries not included.

3750 18th St., SF. (415) 621-1240, www.missionscienceworkshop.org