Science Park EXPERIENCE
The exhibits included in the Science Park are designed to allow for open ended, imaginative play that encourages intuitive concept building and problem solving, conversation and collaboration around a central “big idea:” We can have fun outdoors exercising our minds and bodies by exploring the basic forces of nature.
The Science Park is a social space where visitors of all ages are encouraged to talk and discuss what they’re seeing, doing, feeling and thinking. This sharing completes the cycle of scientific thinking, in which discoveries are not only made, but also shared and built upon by others, leading to a desire for further exploration and discovery.
With a satisfying “thunk,” the Tennis Ball Launcher shoots high into the sky, delighting kids and adults alike with the power of air pressure. Using a pulley, visitors first lift a bowling ball by pulling on a rope. When the bowling ball is released, it compresses air in a cylinder, which travels to another, smaller tube holding a tennis ball. The concentrated compressed air becomes a propellant, forcing the tennis ball high into the air. A conical net funnels the falling tennis ball back into the tube for the next shot.
Science Connections: Energy transfer, air pressure, mass, compression, force, volume, ratios, cause and effect
Number of Active Users: 1
This activity allows visitors to transform their own physical energy into wind power by pushing or pulling a large wheel round and round. The wheel powers overhead drive belts that connect the wheel to a large fan. The fan can blow in either direction—toward the people turning the wheel, cooling them as they work, or away from the exhibit toward onlookers. The faster the visitors push, the greater the breeze they generate. As an addition, a motion activated misting system incorporated into the fan will create an additional cooling element on hot days.
Science Connections: Energy transfer, mechanical advantage, pulleys, simple machines, force, cause and effect
Number of Active Users: 6
At this exhibit, visitors are challenged to experiment with force and trajectory by aiming a nozzle and shooting balls at targets placed on the far side of a large trapezoidal enclosure. There are be two “shooting stations” which use air pressure to shoot the balls. Visitors first place a ball in the launcher at the shooting station, then aim the launcher at a target. The launcher is adjustable allowing the visitor to experiment with different trajectories. Once the visitor has chosen a target and aimed the nozzle, they launch the ball and observe the results of the path they chose.
Science Connections: Air pressure, force, trajectory, gravity, cause and effect, comparison/ contrast
Number of Active Users: 5 to 10
Pulleys give kids the advantage when they pull themselves up in this energetic contest. Visitors hoist their own bodies with the help of pulley systems that increase their mechanical advantage. Configurations of two pulleys, three pulleys and four pulleys provide different amounts of mechanical advantage, varying the challenge at each of the three stations. By trying each, visitors can compare the efforts required to lift themselves up. Each pulley chair includes a seat belt and hydraulic damper that lowers the visitor safely.
Science Connections: Pulleys, simple machines, mechanical advantage, energy transfer, cause and effect, comparison/contrast
Number of Active Users: 3
This open-ended activity invites visitors to construct a ball raceway and have fun experimenting with gravity, centripetal force and momentum. Visitors of all ages enjoy the challenge of constructing a course that a ball can roll through without stalling, dropping out or jumping the track. The exhibit includes base modules that provide the movable foundations on which visitors create their ball fall designs. Vertical pipes with sliding clamps drop into the foundations, providing an easily adjustable support system for the many different track sections from which the visitor may choose. The variety and flexibility of the construction system allows visitors to design a number of track configurations.
The large scale of the Roller Coaster encourages kids and parents to work together to design the biggest, coolest, fastest roller coaster possible. And, the adjustability of the pieces means a changing experience that can grow in complexity as visitors return again and again.
Science Connections: Gravity, potential/kinetic energy, momentum, centripetal force, friction, inertia, cause and effect, mathematics (calculation of speeds, etc.)
Number of Active Users: 15 to 20
This experiment in optics invites visitors to see the world in a very different way. Mirrors inside the barrel of a double-ended kaleidoscope produce an amazing, multi-faceted image that changes as visitors aim the kaleidoscope in different directions and look through both ends. The kaleidoscope can be rotated on its base, as well as moved up and down to allow for maximum viewing opportunities. Two kaleidoscopes will be provided, each with a different mirror configuration to provide different viewing effects.
Science Connections: Optics, light, reflection, refraction, angles, multiplication, observation Number of Active Users: 2 to 4 (for 2 double-ended kaleidoscopes)
This experience features a pair of 10’ long, gently inclined tracks and two wheels, each with three radially adjustable weights in slots. Visitors can redistribute the mass of each wheel by altering the position of the weights in the slots, thus changing the spinning speed of their wheels. Visitors release their wheels at the top of the tracks to see which one will reach the bottom first and win the race. A wheel with more mass near the axle will have less angular inertia and accelerate more quickly down the ramp than a wheel with its mass placed farther out. Each weight can be positioned individually, allowing an asymmetrical distribution of mass around the wheel that results in unusual patterns of acceleration and deceleration as the wheel makes its way down the incline. Repeated experimentation helps visitors make science connections through observable cause and effect results. To encourage experimentation, one pair of tracks is sloped at a smaller angle than the other, allowing for additional comparison, competition and observation.
Science Connections: Mass, speed, inertia, momentum, laws of motion, cause and effect, comparison/contrast
Number of Active Users: 4 (for two pairs of tracks)
Here, kids launch a wire guided rocket (a small water bottle) skyward approximately 30’ using compressed air and water. First, the visitor activates the exhibit by choosing one of three combinations of water and compressed air they want to pump into the bottle. Once the rocket is filled with the chosen amount of water and compressed air, the visitor hits the “Launch!” button. Upon launch, the pressurized air forces the water out the bottom of the rocket, launching the rocket high into the air. When the rocket returns back down, it’s ready for another flight. Visitors can experiment with the three different combinations of water and air and observe how it affects the force and height of the launch. Two launching stations will be included in this experience, so visitors can also do side-by-side comparisons as part of their experimentation.
Science Connections: Energy transfer, potential/kinetic energy, pressure, force, laws of motion, cause and effect, comparison/contrast
Number of Active Users: 2 (for two launch stations)
This physics based version of the classic “Tug of War” clearly demonstrates mechanical advantage in a fun, surprising way. One of the two Giant Levers creates a three-to-one advantage by having the two pull ropes attached at different distances from the fulcrum of the lever—one at two feet above the fulcrum and one at six feet above it. The difference in mechanical advantage allows a few visitors pulling on the six-foot side to overcome many visitors on the two foot side, resulting in both wonder and a determination to figure out why. A second Giant Lever has pull ropes placed the same distance from the fulcrum, altering the visitors’ experience of mechanical advantage there. Each lever has a bell to let visitors know when they have won. Designated “pull zones” on the ground help delineate the appropriate activity area, and hydraulic dampers and springs ensure that the lever returns itself to the starting position in a safe manner.
Science Connections: Levers, mechanical advantage, simple machines, energy transfer, cause and effect, comparison/contrast
Number of Active Users: 6 to 16 (for two levers)
Visitors can view the sun and other solar activity at this user friendly exhibit that utilizes optics to capture the sun’s image. A lens projects an image of the sun onto a conveniently angled screen, permitting safe and easy viewing by visitors. Since the Science Park has many trees, the Sun Spotter is adjusted daily by a staff member to ensure it receives optimal sunlight. Visitors can turn the viewing screen wheel to find and observe the sun as it moves through the sky.
Science Connections: Astronomy, optics, reflection, magnification, observation
Number of Active Users: 2
The Sound Station is made up of musical instruments. This enchanting arrangement of instruments invites multiple visitors to create music together in a collaborative experience rich with opportunities to explore the science of acoustics: the study of the ways in which sounds are made, changed and heard. Using the different instruments, visitors can experiment with tone, pitch, loudness, rhythm, mathematics, vibration and the connection between sound, shape and the properties of materials. The group consists of:
- Children’s Drums (6): With names that mimic their tones, the quinto, tumba, conga, bata, atabaque and pow-wow drums comprise a world rhythm drum ensemble that is specially designed to develop smaller children’s skills with percussive music making.
- Turtle Drum: This drum is based on the “ayotl,” an Aztec instrument made from a turtle shell. The steel hemisphere has vibrating tongues created by cut-‐outs that create different tones when struck with the hands.
- Djembe Drums (3) with Seats and Earth Drum: This drum circle centered on the Earth Drum, which is played with the feet, celebrates global rhythm traditions and invites communal music making. Each of the three djembe drums is tuned to a different pitch to encourage sound experiments.
- Stone Xylophone: This unusual take on a xylophone invites visitors to experiment with the sound properties of a natural material—stone. Each stone bar of this xylophone is tuned to a tone on the musical scale, allowing visitors to create their own songs.
- Metal Xylophone: The metal xylophone creates similar tones to the stone xylophone, but the material gives a strikingly different tonal quality to the sound, allowing visitors to compare the properties of materials and experiment with tone blending.
Science Connections: Sound, waves, vibration, tone, pitch, loudness, rhythm, harmonics, material properties, comparison/contrast
Number of Active Users: 13
FPL SolarNow™ Tree
The FPL SolarNow™ tree is an artistic, clean energy structure that seamlessly integrates into the landscape to create a unique space where people can see and learn about solar power. Solar energy projects like these provide shade and generate clean, emissions-free energy we can all use, moving us closer to a cleaner energy future for generations to come.