Exhibits

 

Orlando Science Center's exhibit halls feature a vast array of exciting interactive experiences! Learning has never been so fun with these hands on educational exhibits. From down to earth explorations in natural science to the high-tech world of simulation technology, everywhere you look, you'll find educational and entertaining opportunities to explore, experiment, and discover.

 

Traveling Exhibits

The Orlando Science Center is home to some of the most exciting traveling exhibits in the country. When these exhibits are in town they are only here for a limited time, so don’t miss the opportunity to see them!

 

Exhibit Halls

As great as our traveling exhibits are, there are some exhibits that are the staple of the Orlando Science Center. NatureWorks will have you up close and personal with some of nature’s most fascinating reptiles. At DinoDigs, you’ll step back into the prehistoric age. Discover the dynamic forces and systems that shape our Earth, as well as other planets in Our Planet, Our Universe. Explore such concepts as electricity and magnetism, lasers, soundwaves, and nature’s forces in Science Park. No visit to the Science Center is complete without a trip to KidsTown, an interactive world dedicated to our smaller explorers.

 

Science Live! Programs

What’s the difference between a great visit to a Science Center and a memorable visit? Live programs. Our exhibits are designed to inspire curiosity and exploration, our Science Live! programs are designed to bring the exhibits to life. Whether it’s a show in the Digital Adventure Theater or a one-to-one interaction with a volunteer at the Crosby Observatory, our live programs create the kind of impact that can last a lifetime.

 

Science Stations

Looking for little more “hard science” in your next Science Center visit? Look no further than the Science Stations located throughout the facility. Science Stations are a cross between exhibits and live programs in that they’re exhibits that typically include a live program to truly bring the experience to life. Science Stations provide an in-depth look at their respective subject matter in an entertaining way. Be sure to check your program schedule to see which Science Stations are conducting demonstrations on the day of your next visit.

 

Crosby Observatory

The aluminum-domed Crosby Observatory atop Orlando Science Center houses Florida's largest publicly accessible refractor telescope. This one-of-a-kind custom-built telescope, along with several smaller scopes, are available at selected times for solar and night sky viewing.

 

Recently, paleontologists uncovered the world's oldest fossilized footprints.  Found in the Arabian Desert, these tracks proved that prehistoric elephants travelled in herds.  The Science Center had the opportunity to interview Dr. Brian Kraatz, one of the researchers on the project to get his perspective.

How do trackways become so well preserved?  Don't other animals follow in these paths as well?

Whether tracks get preserved as fossils depends on what happens to the sediments after the animals walked through them. In our case, they walked through a mud plain, which likely dried into a hard surface shortly thereafter. They may have been buried by more sediments shortly thereafter, which kept them safe from erosional process. They were probably re-rexposed sometimes in the last 10,000 years.

What was the Mleisa 1 site like when these creatures were alive?  Did it still look like a desert?

It wasn't a desert. Along with the elephant ancestors that made the tracks, we know there were many other animals (e.g., giraffes, crocodiles, fish, ostriches, etc.) that lived in a large river system that was present there around 7 million years ago.

How do you think aerial photography and hi-res satellite data will influence the way we dig for fossils in the future?   Will we begin relying more on Google Maps as a tool for paleontology?

We already rely heavily on Google earth and aerial photography. Geologic maps can tell us what types of rocks are present in an area, but satellite imagery tells us where there are exposed rocks from which fossils might be weathering out. We often do a lot of preliminary reconnaissance via Google Earth before we go into the field.

Prehistoric elephants and mastodons lived here in Florida, too, but why doesn't it seem like we find their footprints as often as the researchers in the UAE?

The preservation of fossil footprints is rare, and preservation like we describe in the United Arab Emirates, which included an entire herd of elephants, has never been reported before.

When did you become interested in paleontology, and how did you decide to follow that into a career?


I'm in the minority in that I was never interested in fossils growing up. I started college as an art and english major, but ended up doing a degree in Geology as I liked the challenges of trying to understand past events. After college, I volunteered at a large Natural History museum, and was fortunate enough to work with a paleontologists who mentored me and got me started working on fossils from Mongolia. After that, I was hooked, and went on to receive an MS and PhD in paleontology.

kraatz


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Ligers. Grolar bears. Camas. They sound like things out of a fantasy novel but do indeed exist. Here’s an explanation:

Ligers

Born of a male lion and a female tiger, there are only a few ligers in the world. The average liger weighs more than 900 lbs. and stands about 12 ft. tall leading them to be deemed the largest big cats. Although featuring more lion-like features, the liger enjoys swimming like a tiger. They can eat up to 100lbs. a day but due to obesity issues are typically fed 25-35 lbs. with meals ranging from venison to pork. There are also smaller tigons, which are born of a male tiger and female lion.

Liger

 

Grolar Bears

Due to melting ice caps, animals that were once separated are being moved closer together, in this case grizzly and polar bears. Grolars have the head and paws of a grizzly with the white fur of a polar bear. This pairing worries scientists as it is feared the threatened polar bear gene pool will be compromised.

Grolar

 

Camas

The cama is a cross between a male camel and a female llama. Due to size differences their creation came about through artificial insemination in an effort to get the strength of a camel with the wool of a llama. As you can see from the above picture, camas do not have a popular camel hump.

Cama

 

There are many other types of hybrids including wolphins [whale with dolphins], zebroids [zebras with horses], and leopons [leopards with lions]. Some hybrids such as the grolar bear occur naturally whereas other such as camas often lead to ethical debates. Is it ethical to create a species that can change the gene pool of its predecessors and lead to their extinction or is it just the next stage in evolution? What do you think?


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What's the strongest wind you've been in?  50 mph, 100, mph... how about 20 million mph?  That's what researchers at the Chandra X-ray Observatory discovered recently while studying stellar-mass black holes.

Chandra X-ray Observatory is one of the four Great Observatories operated by NASA. It produces images that are 100 times fainter than that of any previous telescope due to the high resolution of the mirrors.  The X-ray Observatory was built to allow astronomers to view images to better understand the evolution of the universe and how the structure was formed.

Stellar-mass black holes are formed when a massive star collapses due to gravitational force and can be more than three times the solar mass of our Sun. In recent days the Observatory has observed the fastest winds ever recorded from a stellar-mass black hole. Traveling at three percent of the speed of light, the winds on the surrounding disk recorded an astounding speed of 20 million miles per hour. These record breaking winds are similar to the winds found in disks surrounding supermassive black holes, which can be billions of times larger and more powerful. According to Jon M. Miller, the co-author of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, “It’s a surprise this small black hole is able to muster the wind speeds we typically only see in the giant black holes. In other words, this black hole is performing well above its weight class.”

The astronomers studying this stellar-mass black hole have also learned that the high winds are carrying more material away from the black hole than it is able to capture. These findings will help astronomers better understand black hole behaviors.  As Ashley King, lead author of The Astrophysical Journal Letters describes, “Contrary to the popular perception of black holes pulling in all of the material that gets close, we estimate up to 95 percent of the matter in the disk around IGR J17091 is expelled by the wind,”

Black_Hole


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Would you ever expect to see a robotics demonstration at the NBA All-Star Jam Fest? That's exactly what we saw when we ran into First Robotics Club 233. In this video, Kaitlin Lostroscio from Pink Team FRC 233 gave us a tour of the basketball playing robot they created. Great job Pink Team!


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Suppose you’re out in the Everglades watching a six-foot alligator when out of the reeds springs an even bigger python that suddenly latches on to it and attempts to devour it whole! The non-venomous Burmese python’s natural habitat may be Southeast Asia but due to human intervention these reptilian creatures are coming to the Everglades near you! It became a startling phenomenon a decade ago not only due to owners releasing their pets and accidental escapes but breeding among the freed pythons as well. A female Burmese python can lay up to 100 eggs with an average of about 36 eggs. That’s a lot of pythons from even one snake! Especially for a breed that can grow up to 23 feet long and weigh upwards of 200 lbs.

According to a recently published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, their arrival has heralded a severe decrease in the population of several native mammals including raccoons and opossums. Researchers are having a more difficult time monitoring the effects of the python’s presence on endangered animals such as the Florida panther. Even if they don’t interact with the panthers, they are still affecting them by consuming their food source of small mammals.

It’s difficult to estimate how many pythons are slithering free throughout the one and a half million acres of the Everglades. In an interview with PBS, Shawn Heflick, President of the Central Florida Herpetological Society, says he believes “that the true number is closer to between 5,000 to 10,000 animals. The 100,000 plus numbers are inflated and sensationalized by politicians and some of the local media, but no one has the real answer to exactly how many are out there.”

Park personnel have taken preventative measures with Ivegot1.org where visitors can report sightings and learn about the species as well as offensive measures such as using detection dogs to sniff out the snakes. Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made it illegal to import these pythons into the U.S. as well as transport them across state lines. Even with these efforts only time will tell as to whether the situation can be contained.

Python

Image Source: The Nature Conservancy.


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777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • TTY: 407.514.2005 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: gservices@osc.org
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