In the continuing saga of my winter break travel adventures in Cleveland it was inevitable that I would go back to the beginning, so to speak, and that beginning starts with a story about the Great Lakes Science Center. The Center was hosting a pre-New Years Eve party for youngsters, and so I went with my friends and their son to check out the festivities. For anyone that has not been to the Science Center before, it’s basically a huge complex dedicated to all things science, with a heavy emphasis on space flight thanks to the influence of NASA in the Cleveland area.
The Center was setup with numerous kids’ activity stations around the many floors, with activities ranging from playing with industrial white plastic stuff that looks like snow to watching snowmen and fruitcakes exploded by the power of liquid nitrogen. There was also a short “Big Science” show in between activities, which was one of my personal highlights, if for no other reason than I love watching live science shows with a room full of kids. I think it somehow transports me back into my camp counselor days teaching kids about science in a hands-on and engaging way. While I took way too many photos while at the Center, here’s a few highlights of some of the fun from that Big Science show.
This was one of the several demonstrations with liquid nitrogen, showing how the warming of the liquid gas causes the change of state from liquid to gas, which can be seen in the visual creation of the Nitrogen “fog.”This was always one of my favorites, as it is both cool to watch and has a certain mysteriousness to it. I mean, all they did was pour this liquid out of a thermos and suddenly–viola–rolling vaporous fog. How cool is that.
I’ve also included a short playlist of a few videos I took during the Big Science show, as well as a later exploding liquid nitrogen fruitcake–which was tres chic–in the video playlist below. Remember kids, don’t try this at home!
Big Fun @ Big Science
The Science Center itself also has a ton of really cool gadgets and toys to play with, and for anyone who has been to the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, better known as COSI, this is like what COSI used to be in the late 80′s/early 90′s but on a bigger scale. One of my favorites is the lightning tube, which I get endless fun from, as you can see here.
Ok, so it’s not really a lightning tube. Technically it’s called a fulgurite, which is a naturally occurring process whereby lighting strikes quartz silicate, sand or similar earth and produces a hollow glass object due to the instant heat (1,800 °C, yikes!) and electrical charges coursing through them. Although in nature they look nothing like this, it’s still pretty cool. One day I hope to have a massive version of this in my home
Where was I, oh yes, the cool science fun. So the last points worth mentioning were the fruitcake explosion, the frogs and the balloon drop. You can check out the fruitcake explosion in the video playlist above, so I won’t bother you with the details, except to say that it was very cold out!
The frogs were one of my favorites, since I wasn’t expecting to see frogs in the science center–silly me, what goes together better with science than frogs?! The exhibit had dozens of different varieties of frogs, with an emphasis on frogs from the Amazonian forests, including some of the deadly venomous frogs that just look so cool! I managed to get photos of almost the whole frog community that was in the frog exhibit, so you can check them out in the slideshow below.
Finally, and perhaps fittingly, was the pre-New Years Eve balloon drop, complete with sparkling ginger ale in plastic champagne classes, and a massive balloon stomp-fest that followed in its wake. Let’s just say my ears thanks me as we rushed out after a few minutes of excited celebrating and balloon stomping. The balloon drop itself was fun to watch, and I took way too many pictures while testing my new camera’s rapid-shoot mode. I mean really, who needs 1000 pictures of balloons falling? Apparently I do! For your sanity and mine, I dumped the images into a video program to speed up the effect, so here is the balloon drop in all its glory!
Well, all in all it was a great night at the Science Center, and also a fun way to start my adventures in Cleveland. There is more to come from the Adventures of Cleveland, so stay tuned for Pt VI: And the Best Night Ever!
Until next time…good science to you!
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