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.

 

In a recent study, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta found that fire ants form seals so tight that not even water can get through. The researchers say it’s as though the bugs are weaving a waterproof fabric out of themselves. The ants on the bottom don’t drown, and the ants on the top stay dry. Working together, the ants float to safety — even though a single ant alone in the water will struggle to survive.

Fire ants are famous for their construction projects (as well as their burning bites). When they need to, colonies of these insects turn themselves into ladders, chains and walls. And when floodwaters rise, a colony can float to safety by making an unusual boat. The ants hold tightly to each other, forming a buoyant disk atop the water. The ant-raft may float for months seeking safe harbor.

Ants_2

Fire ants and water don’t mix. The ant’s exoskeleton, or hard outer shell, naturally repels water. A drop of water can sit on top of the ant like a backpack.  When an ant does end up underwater, tiny hairs on its body can trap bubbles of air that give the bug a buoyancy boost.

But that’s just one ant. No matter how well it repels water, a single ant doesn’t explain how a whole colony stays afloat. To investigate the science behind the ant-raft, the Georgia Tech researchers went out and collected thousands of fire ants. The species the researchers collected was Solenopsis invicta, which is better known as the red imported fire ant, or RIFA.

The scientists placed hundreds or thousands of ants at a time in the water. A group of ants took about 100 seconds, on average, to build a raft. The researchers repeated the experiment multiple times. Each time, the ants organized themselves the same way, creating a raft about the size and thickness of a thin pancake. (The more ants, the broader the pancake.) The rafts were flexible and strong, staying together even when the researchers pushed the rafts underwater.

The scientists then froze the rafts in liquid nitrogen and studied them under powerful microscopes to figure out how the ants kept everyone safe and the water out.

The team found that some ants used their mandibles, or jaws, to bite other ants’ legs. Other ants joined their legs together. Thanks to these tight bonds, say the scientists, the ants did a better job at keeping the water away than any one ant could do on its own. By working together, thousands of ants can stay alive in the face of a crisis like a flood by using their own bodies to build a boat.

Ants_1


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Cady_Coleman

While thousands looked to cross “Witness a Space Shuttle Launch” off their Bucket List, Endeavor Astronaut Catherine (Cady) Coleman knocked “Play with LEGO’s in Space” off NASA’s. This is not the first time Cady has made history in space, as she was also the first person to play a flute in space.

lego-space-shuttle

Cady now gets to be the first Astronaut in History to experiment with Lego’s, in a microgravity environment, on STS 134. Astronauts will also and share results with teachers, students and classrooms via Lego Education beginning in September.

Lego

Don’t forget to check out our exciting Summer Camps, including dates for LEGO specific camps. For more info on LEGO’s in space, visit the following links:

http://www.legospace.com/en-us/Default.aspx

http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2011/04/space-shuttle-endeavor-launches-tomorrow-with-a-special-payload/

http://gizmodo.com/5802503/these-are-the-first-lego-sets-ever-launched-into-space

 


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National Geographic reports that exotic plants may make your yard look beautiful but in the long run they will cause harm to our ecosystems. Dr. Doug Tallamy an entomologist (insect expert) at the University of Delaware explains why having only plants native to your area is so important.

Ever since non-native people started to arrive on America's shores, they've carried along with them trees, flowers, and vegetables from other places. Now there are so many of those outside plant species that they are crowding out the native plants that have lived here since before settlers arrived. This may not seem like too much of an issue until you consider the fact that the type of plants has an impact on other living things in the environment, like insects and animals.

Think of it as a web, which starts with the plants, goes to the insects, and ends with birds. Almost all the plant-eating insects in the United States—90% of them—are specialized, which means they eat only certain plants. When those certain plants aren’t available for the bugs to eat anymore the insects die off. In turn, insects are the food source of birds and when the insect population drops so does the bird population.

Dr. Tallamy points out that, "we cannot let the plants and animals around us disappear," and, "the way to preserve them is to give them food to eat. But when we plant non-native plants, we are clobbering the food web, because then we don't have the insects the birds need to live."

What can you do to help this situation? It’s simple! "Just Google 'native plants' and your location, and you can find out which plants really belong where you live," says Tallamy. He also suggests getting your children involved with the planting process or even having them, “adopt a bird species in trouble and see if [they] can't plant some things that will attract the insects they need."

Milkweed

Photo Above: Milkweed is a flower native to Central Florida. Monarch butterfly caterpillars dine on Milkweed. A small milkweed patch planted in Spring can produce beautiful Monarch butterflies in the Summer!


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Fossils can connect children to the history of our planet. It allows them to simultaneously imagine how ancient life might have been, while examining current habitats and species that could become the fossils of the future. This fun activity from Kaboose.com let’s kid creative their very own fossils that can be ancient or modern!

What you'll need:
  • 1 cup of used coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup of cold coffee
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • Wax paper
  • Mixing bowl
  • Some small objects to make impressions in the dough (Shaped cookie cutters work well.)
  • Empty can or a butter knife
  • Toothpicks, optional
  • String to hang your fossil, optional
How to make it:
  1. Stir the together the coffee grounds, cold coffee, flour, and salt until well mixed.
  2. Knead the dough together and then flatten it out onto the waxed paper.
  3. Use the can to cut out circles of the dough or use the dull knife to cut slabs large enough to fit your "fossil" objects.
  4. Press your objects firmly into the dough. When you take the object out, you have your "fossil". If you want to hang the fossil, poke holes into the edge to hold the string.
  5. Let the fossil dry overnight (and up to two days) and then hang it if you wish.
Tips:

To reduce the drying time, bake the fosils for a short period of time.

Baked_Fossils


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National Geographic reported that radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, disabled by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in Japan, continues to enter the ocean and endanger marine animal life. In the beginning of the month, seawater samples taken near the nuclear power plant, on Japan's eastern coast, showed elevated levels of radioactive isotopes. The presence of radioactive isotopes alone is not bad since all life on Earth, and in the oceans, lives with exposure to natural levels of ionizing radiation. Although we are all in contact with high frequency radiation strong enough to change DNA most genetic damage heals because the damage is coming from a natural source of radiation. However, the addition of human-made radiation can make it harder for the body of humans or animals to repair broken genes.

Radiation concentrations in the Japanese seawater samples have peaked at around 3,355 times the legal limit for seawater, which shows that this radiation exposure is far beyond any natural radiation marine life comes in contact with. Once the radiation enters the seawater it can hurt marine life, either killing, creating genetic mutations in offspring, or passing along the radiation up the food chain. Joseph Rachlin, director of Lehman College's Laboratory for Marine and Estuarine Research in New York City, feels that, "there will be a potential for a certain amount of lethality of living organisms, but that's less of a concern than the possible effects on the genetics of the animals that become exposed,” and that the main problem is the radiation, “altering the genetics of the animal and interfering with reproduction.” However, according to chemical oceanographer Bill Burnett, “The good news is the half life [of iodine, one of the radioactive isotopes] is only eight days,” and, “if they stop the source of the radioactive leakage, this is going to be a short-term problem."


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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: [email protected]
  Orlando Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.
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