Volunteer Spotlight: Jisoo K.

At the Greensboro Science Center, we are honored to welcome approximately 750 volunteers each year, giving a cumulative 36,000+ hours of their time. With a friendly greeting and a warm smile, our volunteers help us carry out our mission each day, educating our visitors about our animals and exhibits and inspiring them to learn more.

Today we would like to introduce you to Jisoo K.

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I have been volunteering since October of 2014, and because I currently attend high school, I volunteer mostly on Saturdays. I try to volunteer in the Aquarium at least one time every week. I started to volunteer because I wanted to have the opportunity to interact with many different types of people, which I knew I would have the opportunity to do at the GSC. In addition, when it comes to anything related to science, I am infinitely curious, always seeking to learn more about anything that I can. The Greensboro Science Center, with the museum, the zoo, and the Aquarium gives me the chance to explore my curiosities. 

One of my favorite things about volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center is answering questions. I try to answer any questions that I am asked thoroughly and in an interesting way. I also love staying near the fishing cats and talking about them during my time volunteering in the aquarium. I love volunteering, and hope that I continue to have many rewarding experiences through volunteering in the future. 

DIY Science: Chicken Calls

Today at the Greensboro Science Center, we are going to be making chicken sounds from a plastic cup and piece of string! Here is a fun, simple activity that can keep children and adults alike entertained while teaching them some sound science!

For this experiment you will need:

  • A plastic drinking cup
  • Yarn or cotton string (nylon will not work)
  • Paperclip
  • Paper Towel
  • A nail
  • Scissors
  • Water

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To make your chicken call, start by asking an adult to use a nail to punch a hole in the center of the bottom of the cup. Cut a piece of yarn about 20 inches long. Tie one end of the yarn to the middle of the paper clip, and push the other end of yarn through the hole and pull it through.  

Dampen a dollar bill-size piece of paper towel and fold it once.

Finally, it’s time to make some noise! Hold the cup in one hand, and fold the wet paper towel around the yarn. Squeeze the yarn-wrapped paper towel and and pull down in short jerks so that the paper towel slides down the yarn tightly. You’ve just made your own chicken call!

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What’s Happening?

Sound is a form of energy that causes objects, (liquids, solids, or gasses) to vibrate. Pulling on the taught yarn causes it to vibrate. On its own, you wouldn’t be able to hear a vibrating piece of yarn. However, when you add a cup to the experiment, it vibrates as well, amplifying the sound. Much like pianos, guitars, and other instruments, the cup is also a sounding board which amplifies – or increases – the yarn’s sound!

With a little practice you may be able to make some pretty convincing chicken calls! It is thought that chickens can produce around thirty different calls? How many calls can you make with your DIY Chicken Call?

Make it an experiment:

It is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these ideas to get you started:

  • What types of string (length, width, material) makes the loudest or quietest sound?
  • Does the size or shape of the cup affect the volume of the sound?
  • Are there any other materials that can be used to create sound and volume other than just a paper towel?

Try it and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page using the hashtag #gscscience!

GSC Gift Guide: Memberships

Looking for the perfect gift idea that’s fun for the whole family? How about a full year of free Greensboro Science Center admission?!?! A GSC membership offers just that – and much more.

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For as little as $32.40 per person (including tax), a membership truly is a gift that keeps on giving. Not only will it give your loved ones a full year of exciting, memorable, and educational visits to the GSC, they’ll also receive lots of discounts — including discounted admission for their guests, discounted OmniSphere Theater and SKYWILD tickets, discounts in the gift shop and cafe, and discounts on birthday parties, classes and camps!

Members will enjoy exclusive invitations and previews of new exhibits and OmniSphere shows. They’ll also receive information about how to get involved in citizen science programs, be the first to learn about upcoming GSC projects, and get exclusive peeks at what happens behind the scenes of the GSC in our member-only e-newsletters.

If your loved ones enjoy traveling, the savings will go even further! GSC members receive free or discounted admission to over 300 Association of Science-Technology Centers and over 150 Association of Zoos and Aquarium facilities, giving your loved ones the chance to explore amazing science centers, zoos and aquariums all around the country (and world!) for a fraction of the cost.

Click here to see the complete list of member benefits and to purchase a gift membership online.

If you’re a boss looking for a great gift for your employees (or an employee looking to encourage your boss to give you an awesome, experiential gift!), you’ll want to check out our Business Membership program.

Business memberships include GSC membership cards in the company’s name for employees to use. During their visit, employees using the business membership will also receive discounts in the gift shop and cafe. It’s a great way to show your employees your appreciation while supporting science education!

Click here to view business membership levels and to download a business membership order form.

Whether you’re looking for a gift for a family or for your employees, the GSC has a membership program that’s right for you!

Volunteer Spotlight: Morgan T.

We’d like to introduce you to Morgan T. , for this week’s volunteer spotlight. Check out her story below!

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I have been volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center for two years as an Aquarium Docent. I try to volunteer at least four shifts each month which calculates to eight hours in the Aquarium.

What drew me to the Greensboro Science Center is my passion for marine biology and wanting to share my knowledge with others.  I have also been able to gain more knowledge of marine animals and their environment.

I will be attending college next year and studying Marine Biology so this opportunity provides me with a background for my intended major.  It is great to be able to meet new people and share what I have learned about the Aquarium animals.   Volunteering is also rewarding to me because I am able to mentor new Aquarium Docents and share with them the true duties of what it means to be a Volunteer.  This opportunity is also important to me because it  has allowed me to become more involved in my community. Lastly, volunteering  has improved  my communication skills and has given me confidence when it comes to public speaking.

Gift Idea: Inside Tracks

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for that special someone in your life, consider giving him or her an experience instead of a “thing” this holiday season! With three awesome behind-the-scenes experiences to choose from, Greensboro Science Center Inside Tracks programs make a great gift for any animal lover in your life!

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Looking for a memorable experience sure to make the penguin fan in your life smile? How about an engaging experience where they will actually be within wings-width of our penguins? Inside Tracks: Penguin Encounters are the perfect gift for anyone six years old or older!

Give the gift of discovery and let your animal lover come nose to beak with one of our engaging African penguins! Participants get to go behind the scenes, talk with our experts and watch and take photos as a couple of our penguins investigate the encounter room and enrichment items. Each penguin personality is different, just like each encounter!

This “Inside Track” offers penguin lovers the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of our favorite feathered friends. This unique experience starts in the food prep area to see what’s on the menu for our whole colony; you also pick out an enrichment item for the birds that the participants will meet. Then the group will catch up with our keeper and watch a few minutes of our afternoon feeding before stepping behind the scenes to learn more about penguins in our encounter room. As the keeper wraps up the afternoon feed, he or she will join participants to interact with our penguin.

The birds that work with us in the encounters are generally well-behaved around people, but everyone has an off day. Touching the penguin is likely, but not guaranteed. Make sure the recipient of this special gift doesn’t forget the camera! This photo opp may be worthy of next year’s holiday card!

Penguin Encounters can accommodate 8 participants and cost $45 per person in addition to general admission or membership.

Inside Tracks: Aquarium Adventure

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Do you have a fish lover or aquarium enthusiast in your life? Give them an Aquarium Adventure gift certificate and show them what lies behind the scenes of an amazing aquarium! This gift is perfect for anyone eight years old and older.

The recipient of this one-of-a-kind gift will get to go behind the scenes of our aquarium, visit our animal holding areas and learn how we care for our animals and exhibits! Participants will get to see what’s on the menu for our aquarium animals, check out our maze of pumps and filters, and visit the top of the shark tank. Plus, as we await the opening of our aquarium expansion, participants will be among the first to see some of the awesome animals we’re caring for behind the scenes for these amazing exhibits!

Each Aquarium Adventure can accommodate up to 12 people, and costs $15 per person in addition to general admission or membership..

Inside Tracks: Zoo Trekzoo-trek-dsc_7446

Does the special someone in your life prefer learning about our zoo animals over our aquarium animals? Purchase him or her an Inside Track: Zoo Trek experience that will give him or her the opportunity to participate in enrichment activities and learn from zookeepers in an exclusive, behind the scenes setting!

Being an outdoor experience, Inside Tracks: Zoo Trek is only offered March – November, so the excited anticipation of what’s to come will last at least a few months! Activities on a Zoo Trek may include a face-to-face red panda encounter, sprinkling or feeding our giant Aldabra tortoises, giving our tiger or lemurs a treat, or other wonderful – and memorable – experiences! This is an active walking experience, so be sure your gift recipient is up for a bit of activity!

Zoo Trek participants will start in the food prep area to see what’s on the menu for our whole zoo and also pick up some enrichment treats to share with the animals. Then they will walk to four different animal exhibits, where they will meet a keeper and step behind the scenes. Participants will have the opportunity to  learn more about individual animals who live here and about important conservation issues surrounding their species in the wild.

Don’t forget to bring a camera or cell phone for pictures – this is another experience that just might make it on next year’s holiday card!

Zoo Trek can accommodate up to 8 individuals and costs $50 per person in addition to general admission or membership.

How To Purchase

Gift certificates for each Inside Track may be purchased online. You can either email the certificate to the recipient or download a gift certificate to give in person. If the recipient is not a member, general admission can be purchased online as well to accompany the gift.

These experiences are not set up for a party, but small groups can celebrate special occasions (like having the family together for the holidays!). All participants under 16 must be accompanied by a paying adult, with a maximum of 2 children under 16 per paying adult, making this experience perfect for the whole family!

Buy the animal enthusiast in your life the experience of a lifetime with one of our Inside Tracks experiences. It is sure to bring a smile – and plethora of memories – for years to come!

Volunteer Spotlight: Bernie G.

We’d like to introduce you to Bernie G. , for this week’s volunteer spotlight. Check out his story below!

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I have been volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center for over 12 years.  I work in many areas including the Aquarium, Zoo and Special Events. As a Tier 2, I help to prepare diets for the Aquarium and usually volunteer 2-3 times a week. 

I chose the Greensboro Science Center for many reasons.  I wanted to use my experience in science and enjoyment working with children and animals, as well as the flexible schedule. 

Some of my favorite memories come from meeting all the visitors both young and old, especially those from other states or around the world.  When I finish volunteering (not too soon I hope), these memories will last forever.  

 
What I find most rewarding is when a child is hesitant to touch an animal (ray, goat, reptile) for the first time. After I tell them about the animal and assure them that it won’t bite, I enjoy seeing the smile on their face while the parents take pictures. Another thing that’s rewarding is knowing that I am helping Greensboro and all of North Carolina by volunteering in such a great facility, and getting greater, as the Greensboro Science Center.

Bernie currently has the most hours served of any active volunteer at the Greensboro Science Center.  His hourly total since 2004 is 3,293 hours!!!

DIY Science: Leaf Skeletons

Today at the Greensboro Science Center, we are making leaf skeletons!

What you need:

  • Leaves (You will want to choose fresh, large, green leaves. For this project, we used oak and Kalmia L., a shrub in the Mountain Laurel family.)
  • Sodium carbonate (aka washing soda – this can be found at most grocery stores in the laundry aisle)
  • Metal pot – do NOT use aluminum
  • Tweezers
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Long-handled spoon
  • Rubber gloves
  • Bleach
  • Shallow dish (again, do NOT use aluminum)
  • Cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Coated paper plates
  • Stove
  • Adult supervision

Safety First!

  • Sodium carbonate is a strong base with a pH of 11 and can irritate your skin. Always use gloves when pouring, stirring, or touching the sodium carbonate mixture or bleach.
  • Avoid getting the sodium carbonate or the bleach in your eyes or inhaling the powder. Follow the safety precautions on the containers.
  • Use caution around the stove and hot water.

Start Experimenting!

Begin your experiment by putting half a liter (a little over two cups) of water into your pot. Then add 4 ¼ teaspoons of sodium carbonate to the water.

Place the pot on the stove burner and stir to dissolve the sodium carbonate.

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Next, turn on your burner and heat the mixture until it begins to boil. Add your leaves to the pot, and reduce the stove heat to a simmer. Let the leaves simmer in the mixture for about 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on the type of leaf you choose, you may need to simmer for a longer amount of time and add more water to the pot as it evaporates. This process can take up to three hours with some leaves!

After a half hour or so has passed, remove the pot from the heat and turn off your burner. When you begin brushing your leaves, you may find that getting the pulp off of the skeleton is extremely difficult, in this case we suggest placing the leaves back into the pot, and simmering them for another half an hour or so. Continue this step as needed.

Using tweezers, gently take the boiled leaves and place them in a shallow dish filled with water.

With rubber gloves on, use your finger to gently swirl the leaves in fresh water. It is important to use gloves for this part, since washing soda can irritate your skin.

Take your tweezers and carefully transfer your leaves from the water dish to a coated paper plate. Begin to gently brush your leaves in an outward motion from their stems using small brush strokes.

 

Continue brushing your leaves until you have removed as much of the leaf tissue as possible. This process can take time, so be patient!

Gently move your leaf skeletons into a cup of bleach, and let the skeleton rest for 20 minutes before moving it to a paper plate to dry. This will turn your leaf skeleton from brown to white.  

Cool…what’s happening?

The boiling water and the sodium carbonate (which has a pH of 11) worked together to break down the flesh of the leaf. The intricate lacy pattern you are left with is actually a pattern of hollow veins, which make up the skeleton. A leaf’s skeleton is not like an animal’s skeleton, which is made of bone or cartilage. The veins in a leaf skeleton contain lignin that make them harder to degrade or dissolve. The veining system in a leaf provides nutrients and water to the rest of its cells. There are many different shapes and sizes of leaves. Some are long and narrow like the leaves of a willow tree and some have lobes like the oak leaf. Some leaves are thick like magnolia leaves and others are thin like a beech tree’s leaves. See if you can identify your leaves using a tree I.D. guide such as this one by NC State extension:

https://gardening.ces.ncsu.edu/2015/08/nc-tree-identification/

To Make This an Experiment:

Remember, an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! See what happens if you use different kinds of leaves or boil the leaves for a different amount of time. Will all the leaves have the same skeleton?

Try it and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page using  the hashtag #gscscience