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.

 

Have you ever gazed up at the sky to see a colorful flock of Bachman’s warblers migrating south for the winter? Have you ever swum in the sea only to see a Caribbean monk seal playing freely? What about seeing an eastern Cougar stalking through the woods or a Goff’s pocket gopher digging a tunnel on the coast?

I bet you haven’t as these animals are extinct, gone forever and as of January 2011. There are however, more than 1,170 species on the brink of joining them.

Below are a few of Florida’s most wanted animals. They’re wanted not for being bad natured but because they’re so endangered and we would like them to stay around for future generations to enjoy.

The Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi)

Panther

Image Source: The Resilient Earth

Perhaps one of Florida’s most famous animals, serving as the state’s mascot, the Florida panther is also one of its most endangered. Their numbers have been dwindling toward extinction since the 1960s due to loss of habitat, collisions with vehicles, and genetic defects. Many people fear these big cats, which can grow 6-7ft. long, but they should know there are no recorded incidents of a panther attacking a person. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, before the Europeans arrived there were once more than 1,360 panthers in the wild but now there are only an estimated 100 left in south Florida.

Ivory Billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis)

Woodpecker

Image Source: Wikipedia

A bird so endangered, scientists are unsure whether or not it’s already extinct, the Ivory billed woodpecker has been reportedly spotted in the woods of North Florida, the cypress swamps of southwest Florida and swamp areas of central Florida. Is the bird extinct or elusive? Only time needed to repopulate and scientific searches will tell.

West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus)

Manatee

Image Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

These gentle giants grace the freshwater springs and costal waterways of Florida. Even though you would think living below the surface would protect them, they still face danger in the form of boating accidents, cold weather and pollution. Manatees are vital to our Florida ecosystems as they help prevent aquatic plant overgrowth and bring thousands of tourists to our state a year. Estimates place only a couple thousand West Indian manatees left in the wild, with the largest population residing here in Florida. These creatures have been around for millions of years and with caution, we can keep it that way.

These are just a few of the many Florida animals on the verge of disappearing forever. Luckily, there is still hope for the future thanks to rehabilitation and breeding programs. You too can help these animals by becoming more aware of threats to their lives and by supporting programs that ensure their survival. A few such programs include “adopting” your favorite animal for as little as $25, purchasing license plates where a portion of the proceeds go toward habitat protection and adding your name to online petitions. Together we can ensure these beautiful creatures survive and thrive for future generations to enjoy.

 



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Supplies you will need

  • Water
  • 1 clear plastic bottle
  • Vegetable oil
  • Food coloring
  • Alka-Seltzer or any sort of tables that fizz

Directions

  1. Fill the clear plastic bottle one quarter of the way full with water
  2. Fill the bottle with vegetable oil until it is nearly full
  3. Wait for the oil and the water to separate
  4. Add about twelve drops of your favorite color food coloring into the bottle
  5. The food coloring will fall through the oil, drop to the bottom and mix with the water
  6. Break the Alka-Seltzer tablet into four small pieces
  7. Add the first piece of Alka-Seltzer to the water and watch the lava begin!
  8. Once the bubbling stops add more Alka-Seltzer to continue to fun

Lava_Lamo

The science behind the experiment

The oil and water separate because the density of each liquid is different. The oil floats to the top because it has a lower density than water and food coloring do.

The Alka-Seltzer tablets that are dropped in the bottle release small bubbles of carbon dioxide. The bubbles then rise to the top with the water and food coloring.  Once the gas escapes, the water goes back to the bottom.


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