By Lauren Preble
Guest experience gallery interpreter
Spring is upon us, and I am sure you have witnessed quite a few more honey bees (Apis mellifera; native to Europe) fluttering around in the breezy Phoenix afternoons. But have you ever taken the time to recognize and appreciate the true value of the beloved honey bee? Despite the nasty sting of the honey bee with which you may have personal experience, these bees are not aggressive in nature. In fact, these bees help us much more than hurt us!
How, you ask? Honey bees act as pollinators, meaning that the worker bees of the colony actively seek out both nectar and pollen in flowers as a source of nutrition for the rest of the hive. And, have you ever noticed that bees have tiny hairs on their bodies? Pollen from one flower will stick to these hairs, allowing pollen from one flower to be transported to another flower as the bee continues its search for both nectar and pollen. The transfer of pollen from one flower to another will result in fertilization, and eventually, the production of a fruit! This process is known as cross-pollination.
On the afternoon of May 7th, the lobby of Arizona Science Center was alive with the excited buzz of nearly 200 elementary school students and their teachers. Look to one side of the lobby and you would see a group of 5th graders with their brows furrowed in intense concentration as they attempted to build a bridge out of dominoes.
A glance over to another area would reveal a group of 3rd graders whose expressions alternated between absolute disgust and wide-eyed wonder as they watched a cow eyeball dissection. A glimpse over to another part of the lobby would show a precocious group of 2nd graders testing car design aerodynamics with toy cars and a fan.
Everywhere you looked there were groups of young students – and yes, often chaperones and teachers as well – engaging in some kind of hand-on, STEM-centered activity. This event, aptly titled “All Hands on STEM”, was hosted at Arizona Science Center as a part of NBC News’ Education Nation tour. It was an incredibly rousing success for all involved. Through this event, Arizona Science Center was able to live out its mission to inspire, entertain, and educate people of all ages about science!
DON’T FORGET YOUR TOOTHBRUSH…
Would you go to space? In the not-so-distant future, taking a weekend jaunt to the Mariner Valley on Mars may be as realistic as taking a flight to Europe! “Space tourism” is now a booming industry that companies, like Virgin Galactic, are pushing ahead. While these companies are still in the Research and Development phase of mass space travel, they are already reserving seats for maiden voyages at a whopping $200,000 a piece!
Do you think the Mars Rovers get a spring break too? They sure do! Mars passed behind the Sun last week (from Earth’s perspective), and NASA will not be able to communicate with any of the rovers, like Curiosity and Opportunity, or the satellites, like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, so it’s like they get a few weeks off work!
Not to worry though; Curiosity didn’t get away without a little homework! Scientists loaded the rover with a few simple tasks to perform while out of contact, like collecting weather and temperature data.
To read more, click here.
Everybody misses Pluto the “Planet!” Chances are if you were born before 2006, you remember Pluto being the ninth planet! Pluto was discovered in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona by ClydeWilliam Tombaugh. At the time, it looked and acted like the other planets, so it must be one, right?
Over the next 75 years, our technology improved and in 2005, astronomers discovered a potential tenth planet, temporarily naming after the TV character, Xena, the Warrior Princess. In 2006, they officially renamed the new “planet” Eris, afterthe Greek Goddess of Discord and Strife. Eris is similar to Pluto in size and composition and scientists suddenly felt that Pluto may not be alone out there… are there possibly many little planets in our solar system? Where do we draw the line between planet and a different planetary object, like a comet or asteroid? In 2006,the IAU (International Astronomical Union) came to a vote and decided that Pluto and Eris would be the first of a new classification: Dwarf
To read more, click here!
At 4:02 a.m. local time, the Sun passed into the northern hemisphere by crossing the Celestial Equator. At that moment, spring officially began for the northern hemisphere and autumn for the southern hemisphere. It is called the Spring Equinox and it is when the Earth’s tilt is neither towards nor away from the Sun. The result is nearly equal periods of daylight and darkness. For Phoenix, the Sun will rise at 6:32 a.m. and set at 6:40 p.m.
Over the next three months, the Sun will climb further north in our sky. At 10:04 p.m. on June 20, the Sun will be as far north as it will get. For the northern hemisphere, this is when summer officially begins. For the northern hemisphere, the tilt of the Earth is towards the Sun. The day is the longest (14 hours) of the year and the night the shortest (10 hours). From that moment, the Sun will begin a six month retreat south. At 1:44 p.m. on September 22, the Sun will pass the equator heading south. This is the beginning of autumn in the north and spring in the south. At 10:11 a.m. on December 21, the Sun will be at its southern most position. This is called the Winter Solstice and marks the official start of winter in the northern hemisphere. For the northern hemisphere, we are tilted away from the Sun. It is when the days are the shortest (10 hours) and the nights are the longest (14 hours). The Sun then begins the long trek north again.
The seasons are a result of the tilt of the Earth and have nothing to do with how close or far away the Earth is from the Sun. On average, the Earth is ninety-three millions miles from the Sun. In astronomy, this distance is referred to as one astronomical unit. Because the Earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle but instead an ellipse, it is sometimes a little closer to the Sun and sometimes a little further away. A planet’s closest point to the Sun is called perihelion. For the Earth, it occurs in January and the Earth is about ninety-two million miles from the Sun. It is also the point when the Earth is moving the fastest in its orbit. Aphelion is when we are at the most distant point in the orbit and it occurs in July. The Earth is 94 million miles from the Sun and moves the slowest in its orbit at aphelion.
Learn more about the seasons, the constellations, fascinating objects in the sky, and the latest astronomy new by joining us for Arizona Skies- shown daily at 1:30 PM in the Dorrance Planetarium.
This post was written by Mike George, our Senior Manager of Planetarium and Science Visualization.
It was an idle day in the Science Center when a dad came in with his three children: one baby, one toddler, and one that couldn’t be any older than 5 or 6. I got to talking to them and came to find they are so smart! The 5 or 6 year old boy asked why I put his wristband on loosely and I told him I wanted the blood to be able to get to his hand. Right away he said, “Oh like when I pinch my straw and the water gets trapped in it!” It blew me away. I gave them each a book mark with various fish on it and the toddler started naming the fish! They are little future scientists and Arizona Science Center is the perfect place for them to play and learn!
This post was written by our very own Andrea S. Our Membership Associate here at Arizona Science Center.
When you hear the word ‘nano’ what do you think about? Most people immediately think of the iPod Nano or the Tata Nano car. In fact, it seems like the word nano has become society’s buzz word for the latest and greatest of tiny electronic devices. When scientists use the word nano, it means something different. They are referring to something on the scale of atoms and molecules. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter. To give you an idea how tiny that is, a strand of your hair is between 80,000 and 100,000 nanometers thick. Your fingernails grow one nanometer every second! The field of research that studies things on this scale is called nanoscience. Scientists are interested in using nanoscience to create new materials, build better computers, make targeted medications and manufacture more efficient solar panels.
There are typically two ways that scientists create new materials. The first is to mimic nature. For example, nasturtium plants have leaves that repel water because the leaves are covered by nano-sized hairs. Researchers found that they could make synthetic versions of these tiny hairs and incorporate them into fabrics to make stain resistant pants and shirts. The second way scientists can make new materials is by constructing them atom by atom. It has been found that the behaviors of some substances change unexpectedly when you alter their molecular structure. Gold is a great example. When gold is a solid brick, it looks shiny and metallic, however when cut into nano-sized particles, it bends light differently and can look purple, green, or even red. Arizona Science Center has an amazing partnership with the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISEnet) whose goal is to raise public awareness of nanoscale science and technology The Center received a mini-grant from NISEnet to create a nano-themed podcast tour which links to exhibits on the museum floor. Podcasts are free and available online. To take your nano-experience further, please visit NISEnet’s website.
This post was written by our very own Krystal Dillon our Senior Manager Guest Experience here at Arizona Science Center.
Have you ever imagined what Arizona Science Center is like after hours? If you are a Brownie Girl Scout it is time to find out! Grab your troop, and watch science come alive as you have a slumber party right here at Arizona Science Center. The night includes dinner, snack, continental breakfast, fun hands-on science experiments and time to explore the building! Who knew earning the Brownie Home Scientist Badge could be this fun?
Register for our January 25, 2013 event by calling our reservation department at 602-716-2028 today! This is a night you do not want to miss! Visit us online for more details and here for a schedule of events.
This post was written by our very own Joy Moore our Programs Coordinator here at Arizona Science Center.
At Arizona Science Center our mission is to inspire, educate and entertain people of all ages about science. This past year we have taken huge steps to further advance this mission by launching a new branding campaign, Never stop wondering., alongside a new and improved website.
One of the biggest improvements we’ve made equals no waiting in line for you! Now, when you make your ticket purchase online, you’ll now have the option to print tickets at home. Just bring your printed tickets in hand, and go right up to the counter! That’s right – no more lines!
Can’t wait to visit us again? View our current featured exhibitions HERE, our Dorrance Planetarium presentations HERE, IMAX® shows HERE and Camps HERE! All are available for online purchasing!
This post was written by our very own Candice Jensen our Digital Marketing Associate here at Arizona Science Center.