Spin: The Science of
remembers the thrilling, sometimes stomach-churning, carnival ride,
the Gravitron? You might not have realized it at the time, but the
magic holding you against the wall actually was centrifugal force.
And this summer, kids can experience that for themselves at
Kohl Children's Museum's new exhibit, Spin: The Science of
The exhibit, developed by the
Catawba Science Center in North Carolina, uses 15 different
interactive areas to teach kids about the science behind spin-and
it's much more than playing with a few plastic tops.
Fittingly, the exhibit's centerpiece
is the Human Centrifuge, a scaled-down version of the amusement
park staple. Kids sit in a "tub" and turn a
central wheel to explore how inertia works and how their effort
affects the movement.
"Three-year-olds aren't going to
say, `I understand centrifugal force,'" says Kohl President and CEO Sheridan Turner. "The whole
idea is getting kids excited. 'There will be different levels of
understanding and comprehension.'"
Turner says kids also will get to
explore spinning in other forms, from racing objects down a track
to shooting laser beams at far-away objects to experimenting with
"air thrusters," which NASA uses. (We told
you it was more than tops!)
Although the Human Centrifuge is an
early pick for the kid-favorite exhibit area, Turner also thinks
the Coriolis Fountain, which combines spinning with tubes that
shoot water, will be popular.
"There are a lot of really
interesting concepts that are brought down to levels that are easy
to engage in," Turner says. "It really
starts to bring home in a very easily comprehensible way some
things we deal with in day-to-day life."
Although spinning's natural
connection may have to do with physics, Turner says it goes beyond
that, connecting spinning to meteorology, astronomy, engineering,
life science and even art.
She hopes kids' imaginations will be
sparked and they will want to know more. The goal is that they'll
start making connections, not only to other parts of the Children's
Museum, but also to things in their own homes.
And maybe even the amusement
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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