Friday, February 3, 2012

Live Science Center in Faro, Portugal

The Live Science Center, or Centro de Ciencia Viva, was a big destination for Jacob. After enjoying the Edinburgh robot so much, we all were hoping for another super science experience with mechanical friends.

As you might guess from the name, the center was more focused on earth sciences and biology than on robotics and technology. In fact, no robots were immediately visible to us. Jacob was still satisfied with the variety of interactive scientific exhibits designed just for small hands.

Almost immediately, Jacob came upon a large wheel with a tube half filled with water and half with sand. Turning it was a little challenging for him but worth it to see the sand and water changing places.

Getting it to stay horizontal was as impossible as getting good focus

The next exhibit was easily the second favorite for Jacob: the earthquake simulator. A small panel let the operator adjust the level of shaking from minimal to "hang on for dear life!!!" If only that was what the label on the machine said. Of course the label was in Portuguese so it may well have said "hang on for dear life!!!" All I know is that Jacob rode it five or six times during our visit to the center.

Mommy does her worst to Jacob!

A cut-away volcano explained eruptions and other dangers of boiling earth.

This exhibit did have Portuguese and English, why not the earthquake machine?

Some show or presentation was going on up a staircase. Upon investigating, we discovered a birthday party in progress. The museum must rent itself out for such occasions because we found another party going on by the open aquarium.

Looking at small fish and crustaceans

The back part of the museum had an exhibit about DNA and some data gathering computers where you could enter general information about yourself (sex, eye color, age, etc.) and see how you compare to other visitors to the museum. Of special interest (mostly because he set off the alarm every time he went into it) was the mutant detector. You may think I'm making this up but I do have the picture to prove it:

Why isn't this linked to the data computers?

To be fair, everyone was setting the alarm off, including Lucy, whose mutant power apparently is invisibility, judging from the pictures I took.

Outside was a garden of science where various experiments could be performed. One involved a gyroscope. A small bicycle wheel was put on a handle (the gyroscope). If you held it horizontal and spun it while sitting on a swivel seat, you would be still. If you tilted the wheel, the seat would start turning! It was a cool experiment.

It also made Lucy reappear!

Another exhibit had us riding water horses. As long as the rider pedaled fast enough, the horse shot water out of its face and we could spray various wheels in the display.

Another pedal-powered exhibit was the bicephalous chameleon. The chameleon would move towards the pedaler who pedaled the fastest. This museum is easily the hardest workout you can get while relaxing and learning science.

Green wins by a head!

An outdoor staircase led to some more fun science stuff, including a sun dial that was completely accurate.

Just after 1700! In Britain, the sun would be long gone!

We also saw a train and a beautiful sunset from atop the museum.

Goodbye, sunshine!

Hello, train!

We enjoyed our visit to the Live Science Center, even if we never saw any robots.

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