Thursday, March 1, 2018

Maryland Science Center February 2018

My son has been asking to go to the Maryland Science Center and we finally took the whole family while Granny and Grandpa were visiting. He'd been their twice before--once on a school field trip and once on an overnight Cub Scout trip. We had a lot of fun on that visit so I was looking forward to going back.

Maryland Science Center

Sculpture in front

The first exhibit we visited was Dinosaur Mysteries, which was closed off during the scouting outing. A trip into the past was fun for young and old.

Dino section

Silhouette of skull

One display showed the Cretaceous (145 million to 65 million years ago), Jurassic (200 million to 145 million years ago), and Triassic (250 million to 200 million years ago) periods. It was very informative but the least interactive.

Dino ages--not sure this would pass muster in a school science fair

A sample skeleton showed us how dinosaur bones are recovered out in the field (or maybe hidden in fields).

Trapped in rock as well as in the past (walking under the neck is fun if you are short enough)

My daughter found a station to make dinosaur songs. The computer lets users blend different animal sounds to make up a dinosaur roar. This may not be the soundest science but it is fun.

Putting together what a dino might have sounded like

One table has copies of champosaur bones for visitors to line up properly.

Champsosaur repair station

Another dino

We also visited the ever-popular Newton's Alley. Physical science was actually physical as the kids tried out pulleys as a means of lifting themselves off the ground.

Pulling up

A proud climber

Our prescholar played the stringless harp. Music is made by breaking the beams of light where the strings would be. If only all instruments were so easy to play.

A (p)lucky guy

He had more trouble making a water vortex. Speed and strength are needed to get the funnel reaching down to the bottom of the cylinder. I helped out after we took the picture.

Water vortex

Much easier was the demonstration of increasing molecular movement when heat is applied to something. With the turn of a knob, my boy saw balls bouncing higher and more erratically just as molecules get loose and move more freely when an object is heated.

Molecules in heat! [must think of another caption]

On the third floor, a kids' room is aimed at the eight and under crowd. My little son loved putting light scarves in an air shaft that blew them up, up, and away.

Scarf defies gravity like Superman

He found another laser harp but it was not as satisfying as the one downstairs.

"I've done this already, I'll pose for the camera instead!"

He also enjoyed the nautical area where he climbed up ladders and under "the water." Being topside was more fun (and more photogenic).

Steering a ship

Not sure what this is supposed to do

The Power Up! exhibit shows many facets of the electrical system. My daughter tried to light up different sorts of bulbs, seeing how much power they require.

Providing energy to light bulbs

The Shed is an activity area with various drop-in projects. On the day we visited, children were challenged to make tent-frames using only rubber bands and long wooden dowels, like the picture below.

Sample tent frame

My daughter and I immediately set to work, gathering supplies and doing a little bit of pre-planning.

Starting at the very beginning

Finishing in style

The overhead speakers announced a live science demonstration at Demonstration Stage, which was right next door to The Shed. We quickly undid our work and headed over to join the rest of the family to see Liquid Nitrogen in Action!

Demonstration Stage

The lady was very informative and showed the various properties of nitrogen, including the fact that in boils at -320 degree Fahrenheit. As soon as it hits regular air, it starts to boil.

Carefully pouring liquid nitrogen into a beaker

Interestingly, the cloudy vapor that comes off the liquid nitrogen is not nitrogen (which is an invisible gas), but water vapor that condenses rapidly due to the super-cold liquid.

Feeling the air chilled by the nitrogen

Later, we went to the museum's cafeteria for lunch. On the menu was a dino burger, which I naturally couldn't resist ordering. Sadly, it's not made with dinosaur meat (which probably would be too old to eat safely anyway). It's just a regular burger with cheese and bacon. It was delicious.

Dino burger

The museum is located on Baltimore's Inner Harbor, which has a bunch of fun places nearby, including the National Aquarium (why isn't that in DC? Your guess is as good as mine), and several ships.

National Aquarium, USS Torsk (the submarine), and Hard Rock Cafe

More boats

USS Constellation

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