Da Vinci Science Center of Lehigh Valley
Video released on: January 10, 2010
Tracey Werner: Welcome to this episode of Lehigh Valley Visions. Today we’re exploring the DaVinci Science Center in Allentown. This non-profit, hands-on facility teaches curious minds of all ages about scientific principles, but they do it in such a fun way that some visitors don’t even know that they’re learning. Let’s go inside and discover. The first thing you notice when visiting DaVinci Science Center is its giant wind turbine. It generates approximately 6500 kilowatt hours of energy for the center each year. It plays a big role in their on-going mission to educate the public about things like alternative energy sources and environmental conservation. The main exhibit area on the first floor is a scientific discovery area like no other. Visitors can touch sea creatures in the ocean tank, visit an active honey bee hive, or pet a snake in the What’s Alive exhibit area. The Safety Car exhibit helps young drivers learn how to pick out distractions and recognize unsafe behavior behind the wheel.
A popular exhibit at the DaVinci Science Center is this one, the 69 News Accu-Weather Channel exhibit. Here kids get to play the meteorologist in their one onscreen weather forecast. Another popular exhibit is this one, Tunnel Vision. Kids crawl into the tunnel with the lights on, and when the lights are turned off, they find out just how important their vision and other senses are in finding their way back out. And then there’s the GyroSphere ride. This ride mimics the weightlessness and tumbling sensation that astronauts feel in space. They tried to get me to ride it. No way. Ladies? Whoo, I feel dizzy just watching that. I think I’m going to head upstairs now. Hey, Troy, good to see you.
Troy: Hey Tracey, great to see you too.
Tracey Werner: I’m glad I ran into you. I actually have some questions for you about the center.
Troy: Oh absolutely, we love to talk about it.
Tracey Werner: What makes a facility like DaVinci Science Center different from other educational facilities that families might visit?
Troy: We’ve got about 10,000 square feet of hands on exhibits here, really designed to bring science and math to life for the kids. So they can really do science with their hands and with their minds and with their hearts. And these exhibits are constantly changing. We’re always bringing new science topics, new math topics, to really keep things fresh because what we’re trying to do here is not just be an educational facility but ultimately build that next generation technical workforce here in Pennsylvania.
Tracey Werner: And I understand you have a group of very dedicated and passionate volunteers who really help to enhance the visitor experience.
Troy: Absolutely. Yes. Without our volunteers this engine we call the DaVinci Science Center really doesn’t run. We’ve got people from all walks of life. Primarily they are scientists; they are engineers, who had that one experience, that one teacher, that one mentor, that really made them want to pursue science and math as a career. And what they do is they look to give back, they look to give back to the kids, give back to the community, the way they were given the opportunity.
Tracey Werner: Well, thanks for talking to me, Troy. I’m going to head upstairs now and explore the second floor. Our exploration continues on the center’s second floor with exhibits that teach about force, gravity, and Newton’s Law of Motion. There’s even a cool robotic dinosaur that kids can operate. This exhibit is all about force. It uses a lever to demonstrate how easy and difficult it can be, depending on where you stand to lift 240 pounds. From the outside it’s pretty easy, but the closer I get in it’s getting harder. Oh boy, this last one should be interesting. Okay, I think I’m going to need help with this one. The Little Learners Lab is dedicated to preschool age children with exhibits that are low to the ground for easy access. It also features the Go Figure exhibit, which is the center’s completely bilingual exhibit, with instructions in English and Spanish.
The center’s three science labs let school groups and visitors do hands-on experiments and projects in a supervised environment with educators and volunteers. Sample projects include designing and building roller coasters, getting messy with gooey slime, and searching for fossils. I’d like to introduce you to Chicken Pox and Bad Breath, two of the cuddly germs that you can buy here in the Curiosity Shop on the first floor near the main entrance. There’re some great souvenirs here that families can take home to encourage their kids to keep learning and exploring in science. Well, I’ve got a little more shopping to do before I head out, so I’m going to sign off from here and thank you for joining me on this episode of Lehigh Valley Vision. You guys are so cute.