First Floor

The first floor is home to our permanent exhibit items.

Race the Wild

Instructions: Select which animal you want to race by pushing the button under its picture, then wait for the signal to go and run down the track.

Content: This exhibit is designed to give kids an impression of how fast various animals are. The selections range from a turtle to a bear or a cheetah. Actual speeds plus other fun facts for each animal are noted along the runway.

Mega Mouth

Content: Children gain a better understanding of various teeth found within their mouths.

Pulleys

Instructions: Pull down on the rope to lift its corresponding 100 pound weight.

Content: Pulleys work as a simple way to move the line that supports the weight. The real work done in a system of pulleys is from the line itself. In a system of a stationary pulley, there is no actual mechanical advantage; you still have to pull just as much as if you were to lift the weight itself. However, in a single movable pulley system (more often seen in the form of one moving pulley and one stationary pulley), you gain a mechanical advantage of 2, meaning that there is only the effort required to lift the weight as opposed to picking it up without help. This works because when you pull on the line with a certain amount of force, then that force is distributed throughout the line. Since in a single movable pulley system there are two lines supporting the weight, then there are two lines pulling up with that force, doubling the force you put in to it. However, to lift the weight a certain distance, you have to pull double the amount of line out as both sides must decrease in length.

Levers

Instructions: Pull down on the rope attached to the lever and try to lift the 100 pound weight on the other end.

Content: Levers are used to lift objects with the concept of work. Work is simply the weight multiplied by the distance it is moved. By using a longer arm on one side of the lever, it creates a longer distance to move, and therefore requires less force to lift the weight.

Gyro

Instructions: Stand on the spinning platform, hold on to the handrails, and push off with your foot.

Content: The Gyro demonstrates circular motion and the forces that accompany it. When an object moves in a circle, it is continuously accelerating towards the center of the circle. Due to inertia, your body feels as if it is being pushed toward the edge of the circle (not to mention making you feel nauseous). It is the same idea that explains why you feel like you are being pushed back into your seat when in a quickly accelerating car. This is due to Newton's 1st Law of Motion, which explains that objects at rest stay at rest, and objects in motion stay in motion when there are no outside forces influencing them.

Scale

Instructions: Simply stand on the platform to measure your weight.

Content: Scales use springs to measure the force your body exerts downward when pulled by gravity. Instead of measuring the actual weight of the person, scales measure the distance that the springs are compressed. Using this and several known formulas with springs, the distance is converted into the force you body presses down on the spring (your weight).

Look into Infinity

Instructions: Peek into the eyeholes cut into one side, and observe what appears to be on the other side. It should look like a tunnel. Now tilt the mirror that you are looking through to "curve" the tunnel in different directions, and observe how your movements affect it.

Content: This exhibit shows how light can be manipulated, as well as how fast it moves. For instance, if light was slow enough to be seen moving, the "tunnel" image would appear as mirrors getting smaller and smaller, somewhat like a light traveling down a dark tunnel. However, as light is reflected, while traveling at a speed much faster than the human eye can detect, the image appears as an endless tunnel, as the light stays many steps ahead of our eyes.

Kaleidoscope

Instructions: Step under one of the three walls and stand up to view yourself from all angles.

Content: By standing between the three glass panes instead of looking at them from an angle, the visitor is given a view similar to that of the exhibit "Look into Infinity". The walls continually reflect themselves on each other, causing the room to seem indefinite, as well as making it appear that it contains an infinite number of images of the viewer.

Head Games

Instructions: Look into the kaleidoscope from an open end.

Content: These kaleidoscopes are smaller versions of the previous exhibit. Instead of standing in these, the viewer looks into the side, which provides the classic picture of a kaleidoscope, with hexagonal patterns instead of infinite images of one object.

Double Vision

Instructions: Grab the rings on each side of the mirror. Then, with your head to one side of the mirror, move either ring.

Content: When moving the ring, the reflection in the mirror gives your mind the image that either both hands are moving, or neither of them is. In reality only one hand is moving. This confusion between hand and eye signals causes your brain to become disoriented, and often triggers reflexes to counter what it thinks is being done wrong.

Vertex

Instructions: Look into the three mirrors. The eye in the reflection that is closest to the center is your dominate eye. Also, place your hand near the mirrors and observe how the reflection appears.

Content: Your eyes are not equal when sending information to your brain. This is because they are not in the same position, and see the world at slightly different angles. Because of this, your brain cannot simply take an image from both. Instead, it chooses a dominate eye, which views your surroundings. The recessive eye simply adds depth perception and confirmation for what your other eye sees. As a result, your brain centers the view as closely as possible in relation to the dominate eye.

Microscope (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)

Instructions: View the specimens through the looking glass on the microscope. If you can't see them, or if they are blurry, adjust the black knob on the front of the microscope to focus them. To change specimens, slide the strip containing them under the microscope.

Content: Microscopes work by refracting light so that light waves separate as they move forward. Since the light has an infinite number of waves traveling outward, a larger image is formed as the viewing lens refracts the light toward your eye.

Fresnel Lens (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)

Content: Fresnel lenses are similar to normal spherical lenses. However, instead of curving outward, the lens has convex/concave surfaces that are separated to leave the lens itself flat. This causes it to appear as a normal pane of glass with a grooved surface. This shape causes light to refract differently from regular lenses, by separating the waves of light and making them parallel. To the human eye, this just makes whatever object behind the lens to appear highly distorted and discolored.

Invisible Strings

Instructions: Place your hand in between the holes in the bottom and top of the exhibit and listen to the music you make.

Content: Inside the holes are infrared transmitters and receivers. When and object (your hand in this case) is placed between them, it blocks the signal. When the signal is blocked, the receivers set off a switch that sends an electrical pulse through electric wires which power the speakers. Depending on the magnitude of this pulse, which differs for each receiver, you get a different frequency sound, or a different note emitted from the speaker.

Pedal Power

Instructions: Sit on the bicycle seat and start pedaling. When ready, flip up any or all of the three switches to power either the drill or the light bulbs.

Content: This exhibit is an example of a generator. Most generators are gasoline engines designed to use movement to create electricity. However, this one uses human power to create electricity. To create power, the pedals are connected to a magnet by a chain. When you pedal, it turns the magnets. What makes this exhibit work is that magnets are able to alter electric currents. By moving the magnets, a current is created. This current consequently powers the electrical equipment on display. You may notice that when you turn one of them on, it gets harder to pedal. This is because not only do the magnets affect the current, but the current affects the magnets. When the current goes through the light bulbs or the drill, it meets resistance. This slows the electrons down, causing them to slow down around the magnets as well. Because the electrons are going slower, the magnets go much slower as well, and push against the direction of your pedaling.