Monday, March 22, 2010


On March 18th the Museum of Science and Industry welcomed a new exhibit into its facilities. The highly interactive new exhibit features seven different natural phenomena and invites attendees to learn and discover our world. Tornado, lightening, fire, atoms, sunlight, tsunami, and avalanche are all part of the exhibit.

To kick off the opening, the museum hosted a reception the evening of March 18th. As partakers poured into the main hall they were invited to explore each part of the exhibit first by trying many of the appetizers themed with a corresponding natural phenomena. Once attendees were satisfied they moved on to further explore the exhibit itself. Museum staff members were present to discuss, explain, and answer any questions regarding each station.

The two-floor exhibit contains over 50 experiments where adults and children alike can expand their knowledge. As you enter the vast display a large rotating Avalanche Disk towers in front of you. Granules are placed in the center of the disk and participants are invited to adjust the speed of the wheel and learn more about how avalanches, or “flows of granular material” work. Another popular avalanche experiment is a tennis ball launch across the exhibit hall. Guided by the Chicago Bulls point guard, Derrick Rose, you learn how to find the correct angle and velocity necessary to reach the other side.

Next you are faced with a 40-foot vortex, which contains air and vapor. Here you have the opportunity to learn more about tornadoes. In addition you can experiment with your own miniature vortex! As you venture further into the museum, you find a Create a Chemical Reaction table. Here you have the opportunity to drag-and-drop different elements in a virtual chemical lab. You are given a perspective on how different elements react together and you can find how a single molecule can drastically change the outcome of the experiment!

Through out the exhibit you can also learn about sunlight. In the roof of the museum there is light streaming in so that you can create prisms, heat liquid, and power a model race car. At the back of the main level is a water tank that stretches 30-feet. Here you can create a tsunami and learn more about how they work. Learn more about waves as well in ripple tanks and watch them interact with other objects or other waves.

Moving up the escalator, even more natural phenomena can be explored. A “flame test” can be used to create fireworks that burn in different colors and learn how natural fires can even be beneficial to the environment! Lastly, observe the immense Tesla coil on the ceiling of the second floor. A museum staff member sets off the high-voltage lightening as you sit below. Learn more about electricity and how we use it today!

Overall, the new Storms exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry is an incredible and vast display of seven different natural phenomena. The exhibit is great for all ages! Reserve several hours in your day to wander through!

-Erika Ter Louw, HI intern

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