By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The Buffalo Museum of Science has continued on its path to a nearly complete overhaul of several of its galleries with the recent opening of its latest permanent interactive science studio, Our Marvelous Earth.
From a wind tunnel that allows visitors to feel the power of tornadic winds and a video of the destruction said winds can cause, to snow flake formations and an interactive television weather broadcast, there’s a little bit of everything for visitors of all ages ... even a Death Star. Yep, we’re talking “Star Wars.”
Our Marvelous Earth — and indeed, all of the museums new science studios — is meant to be an up-to-date, highly interactive exhibit that combines pieces of the museum’s existing collection and new, high-tech displays.
“Guests will literally be blown away by the interactive components of this studio,” Mark Mortenson, BMS president and CEO, said in a news release, no doubt referring to the exhibit’s Colliding Forces booth, which allows visitors to feel the power of wind speeds from a light breeze all the way up to a tornado.
Like the museum’s first interactive science studio, Explore YOU, the space is meant to be interactive and changeable according to scientific developments worldwide and state science requirement updates, BMS Marketing Manager Amy Biber said.
“The content was picked based on the New York state learning standards and what teachers and educators are looking for and the hot topics today,” she said.
Two workshops in the gallery — labeled “Terra” and “Firma” — were designed to allow school and homeschool groups “to come in a set up shop here.”
“What we’re really trying to focus on with the science studios is making connections,” Biber said. “It’s one thing to read about something in a book. It’s another thing to see it in action.”
She pointed to a large electronic globe called the Dynamic Earth. Visitors can use a computer to access a variety of projected overlays to display on the globe.
“This covers everything from tsunami effects across the globe, to land, to water currents, to the polar ice caps and global warming,” Biber said. “You can see progressively from thousands of years ago how the polar ice caps have melted and it’s really kind of scary to look at, if we continue on the pace we’re on, how quickly they will be deplete in just the next 10 years. It’s scary to watch but it really sends the message home.”
The globe can display images of other planets, the moon, even connections made from Facebook, a giant pumpkin and the Star Wars Death Star. We’re guessing that’s not mandated New York state science curriculum.
“We can change (the globe) up,” Biber said. “It can change along with educational standards we need to meet and also hot topics that come up.”
The permanent exhibit also features earth sciences unique to the Western New York region, with a focus on snow crystal formations, an interactive tv weather forecast that features the blizzard of 1977 and a topographical map of the region. A model of Niagara Falls allows visitors to manipulate the intakes and number of generators to control the flow of water and production of hydroelectric power.
“As a science hub of this community we really want to showcase what we have to offer here,” said Brian Enright, the museum’s community partners coordinator. “There’s a lot of good happening here in Western New York and we’re hoping to showcase a lot of it.”
The museum’s next science studio is scheduled to open in the spring. Each new studio will open at a rate of one every six months.IF YOU GO • WHAT: Our Marvelous Earth science studio • WHERE: Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, Buffalo • HOURS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week • MORE INFORMATION: Call 896-5200, or visit. www.sciencebuff.org Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.