BEYOND THE MAGIC: Stripping the holiday season of the oft-used words "magic" and "magical" just doesn't feel right. After all, word hounds are apt to see those two words the most come December, when just about every commercial and magazine ad and carol trucks out some take on the yuletide being quite magical. And it is, you betcha. But those strings of lights on the tree don't twinkle on because of magic -- it's science. And those beloved, watched year-after-year Christmas television specials don't appear on your small screen by magic -- again, the forces of technology and know-how are at work. And the gingerbread in the oven? Yep, that's science, too, though the spicy taste can absolutely be described as magical. The Discovery Science Center -- the one in Santa Ana, not the one set to debut in LA this fall -- loves to dig deep into the science of the kitchen each November and December, and the institution's ever-popular "The Science of Gingerbread" will once again spice up the kidly favorite starting on Friday, Nov. 28.
BEYOND THE EATING: Nope, you won't walk into the center and nosh upon moist bready cookies for an hour or two, but you will "(b)uild and race your own candy car in the Gingerbread Derby" and meet Santa and join in hands-on activities that reveal how holiday sweets, well, become holiday sweets. (Again, not magic.) And the Annual Science Gingerbread Competition is a yearly classic, so be sure to admire the entries from area schools, businesses, and families. (The houses seem to get more creative year after year, which is admirable, as gingerbread and gumdrops and licorice are not the easiest things to work with, as anyone who has ever worked with the stuff well knows.) Looking for a seasonal to-do with some smartie background to it? Go DSC through Sunday, Jan. 4.