Partner Highlight: From Homemade Slime to Stomp Rockets, NC Museum of Natural Sciences Hosts Triangle SciTech Expo

Kari Wouk, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
NC Museums of Natural Sciences

On Saturday, April 28th, the NC Museum of Natural Sciences held the Triangle SciTech Expo, an Official Expo with the North Carolina Science Festival! This annual event brings the wonder and excitement of STEM topics to visitors of all ages. As STEM encompasses such a wide variety of topics, the event was fantastically diverse; we had everything from a live bobcat to wetland simulations to robotics! Over 5,600 visitors enjoyed a day filled with hands-on, experiential games, crafts and activities—all focused on STEM education!

Making their Museum debut were the latest 2018 Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit activities from the NISE Network! Visitors had a blast with these well-designed, well thought-out activities. Exoplanet Transits made a complicated topic accessible to visitors of all ages. The basic information worked for young children, but there was enough of the complex science to intrigue interested adults, as well. Most exciting, our educators could take not only what they learned at the table, but information they learned elsewhere at the event and build upon that knowledge. We also found that parents would use the lessons to practice basic math with their children.

 

Filtered Light was another activity that appealed to visitors of all ages. Children enjoyed making images appear and disappear and adults were captured by the idea that the simple concept of filtering light is used by space scientists to make astonishing discoveries. This station hit a lot of targets in a busy event; a chance to use your hands, make a little art, make predictions and with a little help from a facilitator, these simple concepts extended the conversation all the way to space!  We did make a bunch more filters in advance, so we could accommodate our large numbers of visitors.

And probably the favorite of all was Stomp RocketsEveryone, regardless of age, enjoyed shooting their rockets and the stickers were a big hit.  We did find that the bottles would wear out eventually (or sometimes one good jump would destroy one completely), so having a stack ready is a good idea.

 

Overall, the NISE Net’s Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit provided a wonderful element to the event. The materials were professional, well-produced and even bilingual! However, what I feel is most valuable is the preparatory and training materials. I feel so confident giving my staff a box and a link to the training materials and knowing that, with a little bit of time and research, they can be completely prepared to educate on an unfamiliar topic. I am so taken with the Facilitator Guides, I’ve been instructing my staff to use them as a template to create a new one for each Museum-developed table that we use at our events!  These activities are easy and convenient to execute and add a new dimension to our events and we eagerly anticipate using them again for future events!