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.

 

Pinwheels are an age old craft that your Grandma will remember. Put together these pretty wind decorations and stick them in your garden.  Encourage your kids to observe the pinwheel to get a look at wind speed and direction.

What you'll need:
  • Colored card stock or construction paper
  • Thumbtack or stick pin
  • Pencil with new eraser
  • White craft glue
  • Scissors
  • Sequins
  • Pattern
How to make it:
  1. Print the pattern onto plain copy or printer paper.
  2. Cut the square pattern out, cutting on the solid lines.
  3. Lay pattern on top of colored paper and trace the square. Cut out the square from the colored paper.
  4. Keep the pattern square on top of the colored square. Either hold it in place with your fingers or tape it down lightly on two of the sides.
  5. Cut through the pattern and the colored paper along the dotted lines but do not cut in to the center circle.
  6. Use a thumbtack or stick pin to poke out the holes in every other corner as indicated on the pattern. Set the pattern piece aside.
  7. Take one corner (one with a hole) and fold it toward the center of the square. Fold the next corner that has a hole and fold it toward the center on top of the first holed corner. Repeat with the other two corners with holes until all four are folded into the center. Glue the folds to each other and to the center. Hold together until dry.
  8. Push the thumbtack through the center of the pinwheel and into the eraser of the pencil. Make sure the pinwheel isn’t touching the eraser or it won’t spin.
  9. Glue some sequins to the flaps of the pinwheel and let dry.
Obervations:

As your kids observe the pinwheel moving, ask them these questions...

  • If the pinwheel blows faster, what does that mean about the wind?
  • When the pinwheel blows this direction, where is the wind coming from?  What if it changes direction?
Pinwheel
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Have you ever wondered what a vortex is and how natural vortices including tornadoes, whirlpools and cyclones move the way they do? Try the tornado in a bottle experiment to find out. A vortex is a whirling mass of water, air or fire that creates a visible tornado-like column or spiral. A vortex can be created with the help of angular momentum, surface tension, centripetal force and fluid displacement. This experiment requires the use of super glue and a drill, so kids – don’t try this without an adult!

Materials

  • Two 2 liter plastic soft drink bottles
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Two bottle lids
  • Super glue
  • Electrical Tape
  • Drill

Process

  1. Fill one bottle ¾ full with water.
  2. Add some food coloring and glitter. (Optional)
  3. Use the super glue (with a parent’s help) to glue the two bottle lids together, flat sides touching.
  4. Let dry.
  5. Drill a hole (with a parent’s help) through the center of both lids with a 9 mm drill bit.
  6. Screw in one side of the bottle lid to the bottle filled with water. Then, screw the empty bottle onto the other side of the connecting lids.
  7. Add some electrical tape around the connection to reinforce.
  8. Turn the bottles over and observe the movement of water from one bottle to the next.
  9. Try again, but this time give the bottle a few spirals as you set it down. Notice what happens this time.

Explanation

The first time you turn the bottles over, the surface tension of the water tries to keep the water from flowing down. The weight of the water above it, however, forces the water to bubble up and break through into the second bottle. This is what makes the BLOOP BLOOP sound you hear as it happens several times. Each time this happens, pressure builds up in the bottom of the bottle until the air is forced up into the top bottle over and over until the top bottle is empty.

The second time, the water was directed into a spiral by your swirling motion creating a vortex into the bottom bottle. Gravity works to pull the spinning water down through the hole into the bottom bottle. The angular momentum of the spinning water makes the water at the center of the vortex spin faster than the water closer to the edge of the bottle creating a whirlpool effect.

The vortex created by the swirl lets the air pass through the center of the vortex without disrupting the flow of the water. When you combine this with the forces of water pressure and the gravity force, a centripetal force, or spinning force, makes the water swirl. Notice that the water near the bottom moves faster than the water at the top. The higher the speed, the steeper the curve needed to allow the spinning motion.


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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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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.
This project is funded in part by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program. Privacy Policy • Accessibility