News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Young Life: Have A Scientific Summer
BY COLLETTE CAPRARA
FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
To get a sense of how seriously the Science Museum Virginia takes its goal of making learning fun, just look at director Richard Conti’s business card: It reads “Chief Officer of Wonder.”
“Any time we can sneak up on people with science, we feel we are doing our job!” Conti said. “Our exhibits and activities are designed to pull back the curtain on the amazing things that go on behind our everyday experiences.”
A flurry of activity this month goes far in accomplishing that goal. This Saturday, the “Spring N2 Summer” celebration takes an annual tradition of the museum, The Scooper Bowl, to a whole new level, as the museum staff opens the doors for their “ice-cream social maximus.”
In addition to the free ice-cream cones scooped by Bruster’s, the festivities will include presentations by a broad spectrum of the museum’s partners and supporters. Among these, will be the First Robotics team, based at the museum, who will give visitors an opportunity to drive the robots they design and to operate one that launches marshmallows. Presenters also include the Richmond Beekeepers Association, which will discuss the process of producing honey, and offer cooking demos and tastings.
The museum’s theater company will emerge from the confines of the Carpenter Theatre to offer dramatic scenarios on various sites throughout the grounds. On the train tracks, actors will portray a conductor and a passenger of the 1940s when the museum building was in its heyday as a bustling rail depot.
Visitors should not be surprised if they see a geyser erupting 25 feet into the air every 15 minutes. That would be the Mento Geyser demonstration, showing the power of the chemical mixture of Mento candies and Diet Coke! (Note: The phenomenon doesn’t happen with Classic Coke!)
The annual summer celebration typically attracts from 2,000 to 3,000 participants and will include live entertainment by Silly Bus and A Good Natured Riot, face painting, and balloon creations, as well as crafts and giveaways from community organizations.
HOW’D THEY DO THAT?
Visitors will be amazed to see the machinery and skill that goes into producing the everyday objects we take for granted—from hangers and soda bottles to crayons and baseball bats. Kids can activate displays of a die cutter and infusion mold and can try their hand at a rolling mill to flatten objects. In the assembly area, they can activate a robotic arm to build a trolley replica and help to assemble a life-size golf cart.
“We don’t really think very often about what goes into making the objects we see every day, and the adults may learn as much as the kids will,” said Conti. “The next time I go to a baseball game I will have a whole new appreciation for bats and how someone turned a tree into that!”
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Saturday’s daylong activities will continue into the evening with LiveSky, featuring “Earth Junk! Is Mother Earth a Hoarder?”—a planetarium presentation, video and IMAX film preview that unveil the tens of millions of objects that are orbiting around our planet. The presentation, conducted by Matt Paxton, the host of the popular A&E reality series “Hoarders,” will be followed by an actual telescope exploration of space hosted by members of the Richmond Astronomical Society (weather permitting).
The museum’s special features also include the exploration of the cutting-edge, widely popular “Body Worlds” exhibit. More than 200 authentic human specimens—including entire bodies, organs, systems and transparent body slices— have been preserved through a state-of-the-art preservation process called Plastination. Going beyond even the specimens typically used by medical specialists, these rare displays show, not only physical composition, but also the dynamics of muscles and ligaments in a variety of athletic stances and motions.
In addition, the exhibit presents the development of the brain from childhood to adolescence and reveals an exploration of the brain’s influence on the body and the process and effects of a number of brain diseases and disorders.
“Even medical professionals are coming away inspired by what they’re seeing in this exhibit!” said Conti.
What: Activities welcoming Summer at The Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 West Broad St., Richmond.
When: Spring N2 Summer: Saturday, June 16: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (included with admission); How People Make Things: June 16 to Oct. 7 (included with admission); “Body Worlds”: Now through Sept. 23, $15; LiveSky Space Junk! Is Mother Earth a Hoarder?: Saturday 6 p.m., $5; IMAX film preview: “Space Junk,” 7:30 p.m., free
Admission: Adults 12–60, $11; ages 4–12 and 60 and older, $10
Info: 804/864-1400; smv.org
Collette Caprara is a local writer and artist.