Soaring Satellites

Working individually or in small teams, students try to build a satellite that can float for at least five seconds in the marked area of a vertical wind tubes. Using simple materials, students explore the concepts of lift and weight as they test and redesign their prototype.

Ships Ahoy!

Using simple, colorful, and recycled materials, students design and build a model vessel to achieve the optimal use of wind power. Find a hull and sail configuration that moves across our water track in the fastest time, or carries the largest cargo of treasure. This is a fun, hands-on activity that reinforces the engineering design cycle. Students can apply their knowledge and understanding of wind power, buoyancy, displacement, friction, and lift to their sailboat design.

Magnus Glider

This is a fun alternative to paper airplanes. It demonstrates the “Magnus” effect.

This is the effect that makes a ball curve in baseball with a curveball pitch. When the ball is thrown, it is also

spun. With the Magnus glider you create a glider from taping two foam or paper cups together, then wind a

long rubber band around them that will be released when you pitch your glider model forward. This spins the

cups while you are throwing them. This tends to make the glider move slightly away from the direction you

Chain Reaction II

Participants will use an assortment of items (mainly household items) to complete Rube Goldberg-type challenges.

Encourage guest to build a device that will complete a task through the use of chain reactions. Using basic physics concepts (inertia, gravity, force, motion) and common items, guests will build Rube Goldberg-type machines.

Paper Helicopters

Create a simple paper toy “helicopter” that spins as it falls.
This is a deceptively simple activity that lets you explore complex behavior of air and pressure. With a piece of paper, scissors and a few folds you can explore aerodynamics.

Wind Racers

Wind racers is a fun activity that helps visitors play with moving air and transform it into doing work. Using sails and small-wheeled carts, they explore how wind can be used to move a boat or in this case a cart or a wind racer. Visitors construct a wind racer using paper for sails, dowels, and small-wheeled carts. There is a smooth raceway path with a fan blowing from one end of it on which the visitors will race their creations or see how far they can make it.

Tiny Drawings

In this activity visitors create drawings and paintings by looking through stereoscopic microscopes and a set of simple materials: paper, pencils, ink pens, colored pencils, very small tipped paint brushes and colored ink. We first introduced this activity as an alternative way of introducing the microscope that brings together art and science for a yearly event we do at our museum called “Microscope Day” where we invite education and research groups that use microscopes in their daily work to share these activities with visitors.

Sound Sandwich

We’ve found it has been difficult to find the right kind of activities that can give someone with limited prior knowledge, an understanding of how sound works; how vibrations in the air are what we experience as sound. The “Sound Sandwich activity is a great way to explore vibration and the different sound and pitches that can be made.

In this activity you blow across stretched rubber bands to create sound. The harder you blow, the faster the rubber bands move ( or vibrate) producing higher sounds. The slower you blow, the lower the sounds. It uses a few very inexpensive materials – possible all can be recycled from a visit to a store – and turn it into a fun and useful tool to explore and understand sound.

Pinhole Camera

This activity appeared like a great way to explore how light, our eyes, and brain simultaneously works together to produce images.
This simple activity also shows some of the interesting things about how our brain takes in information and processes. You can see this best when the image that the pinhole camera shows upside down, how then do we see the world right-side up?

Pterosaur Glider

A fun activity that allows visitors to play with pterosaur anatomy as a frame for a simple glider they will build. Visitors construct their glider with straws, cardstock as wings, tail, and crest, with a rubber band on the head to use as a launching mechanism. Visitors build and test different crest and wing shapes on their gliders using two stationary launchers, watching how well the glider’s fly through the air, making changes to improve their flights.