Volunteer Spotlight: Nico G

In this week’s Volunteer Spotlight, we’d like to introduce you to Nico G. , check out his volunteer story below!


I have been volunteering since June as an Animal Ambassador. If possible, I try to volunteer once a week during the school year. I have always wanted to be a volunteer at the Greensboro Science Center and come here often because I have a SKYWILD membership.

Volunteering is fun and I meet so many amazing people. You are able to interact with them and inform the visitors about the animals and the artifacts that we have on our carts. It’s rewarding to talk to people and see their reaction when they learn something new.

One of the benefits that volunteers receive for their service is the opportunity to do SKYWILD whenever there is an opening.  It’s incredibly fun to be able to go whenever I want.


*The Animal Ambassador Program used to be an opportunity for students ages 13-17 that was offered only during the summer. We have now expanded the program to allow students that successfully completed the summer program to continue on as a volunteer through the school year. Nico is one of 18 students to participate in the School Year Animal Ambassador Program!


DIY Science: Melting Pumpkins

This week at the Greensboro Science Center, we are going to melt pumpkins! Play-Doh pumpkins, that is!

For this experiment you will need:

  • A tablespoon
  • 4 Tbsp. washable kid-friendly paint
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • Measuring cup
  • Construction paper (optional)
  • Scissors (only needed for construction paper)
  • Mixing bowl
  • A plate or platter
  • Paper towels for cleanup


Begin this experiment by combining 4 tablespoons of washable kid paint and 1 tablespoon of water into your mixing bowl.

Add ¼ cup of cornstarch and ¼ cup of baking soda to the paint and water mixture.

We found our hands to be the most effective way to combine the ingredients together! Continue mixing until all of your ingredients are thoroughly combined. You will know that your dough is ready if it has a consistency similar to  Play-Doh.


Next, it is time to form your pumpkins by rolling the dough into balls with your hands. (There will be dough residue left on your hands. However, you will find that it washes off quickly and easily with a little soap!) 

With Halloween right around the corner, we decided it would be fun to make our dough into Jack-O-Lanterns by cutting out eyes, a nose, and a mouth from black construction paper. Lay the shapes on top of the dough ball in whatever way you choose. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Finally, it is time to “melt” your dough-pumpkin. Take your vinegar and slowly drip it onto your pumpkin creation, and watch what happens! You will notice that the vinegar causes a chemical reaction with the baking soda in the dough, and therefore causes the dough- pumpkin to “melt”.

What’s the Science? Don’t worry, the bubbles are just carbon dioxide, (the same gas we exhale) and is not dangerous. Carbon dioxide is formed, along with water, when the vinegar (an acid) is combined with the baking soda (a base). The cornstarch and water combine to make a mixture, which could turn into more of a slimy consistency if you add too much water to the cornstarch. However, that could be fun to play with as well!


It’s African Penguin Awareness Day!

Today, October 8, 2016, is African Penguin Awareness Day! The Greensboro Science Center is home to a colony of 20 African penguins. These birds are playful, inquisitive, and a general joy to watch. They are among the most popular animals that call the GSC home!

But, sadly, these beautiful and engaging animals are endangered in the wild. According to some estimates, they could be extinct in the wild in as few as 15 years. But, don’t despair! There are ways you can help – right from home!


One of the leading causes of African penguins’ population decline is overfishing. You can help alleviate this problem by simply making sustainable seafood choices. The Greensboro Science Center is a Seafood Watch partner. As a partner, we are committed to spreading the word about making smart decisions when it comes to seafood. Be sure to pick up a Seafood Watch guide at the GSC during your next visit to help you make better seafood choices!

Another way you can help is by running or walking. You read that right! On May 20, 2017, we’ll be hosting our 4th annual Tuxedo Trot: Run for the Penguins. This 5K and Kids’ Fun Run is a fundraiser for SANCCOB (the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds). All proceeds from the event are donated to this amazing organization dedicated to helping save this charismatic species. Registration for the Tuxedo Trot is currently available online at tuxedotrot.com.

Can’t wait until May? Well, we’ve got a way you can help right now! Our friends at The Cannonball (marathon, half marathon, and 5K) are giving you a discount AND giving a donation to the Tuxedo Trot with anyone who registers using code LOVEGSO through October 10!

Another easy way to help is to spread the word about the Tuxedo Trot to your friends, family, coworkers, workout buddies, running groups, and even random strangers on the street (although you may get funny looks). Like and share our Tuxedo Trot Facebook page and talk about the event using #tuxedotrot. Anything you can do to spread the word about this event will help us raise funds for African penguin conservation. Thanks for your help!

Volunteer Spotlight: Paige A.

In this week’s Volunteer Spotlight, we’d like to introduce you to Paige A.


I have been volunteering as an Exhibit Guide since the beginning of this summer 2016. My favorite place to volunteer is Health Quest, as I hope to pursue a career in medicine. I try to volunteer as often as I can, though my big family makes it fairly difficult. Ever since I was a little kid, I remember wanting to help at the Science Center. The first thing I wanted to do was help with the animals, because I really wanted to hold the hedgehog. After that I put volunteering on my bucket list, and when I heard about the teen program, I signed up immediately. Bucket list item complete!
When I was a little kid, I went to the Science Center all the time, and I practically know the place by heart. I remember running around the museum, saying, “I remember that! I remember that!” By the end of the day, I’d be carrying a picture of a dinosaur, tired and happy. When I walk into the Science Center now, I find myself hearing the balls dropping in the atrium, wanting to run around the place like I did then, and feeling a sense of happiness that I don’t get from anywhere else. It makes me truly happy to bring that kind of joy to little kids so that one day, they can have a special place like I do here at the Greensboro Science Center.

DIY Science: It’s Electric! (Cornstarch)


Today at the Greensboro Science Center we are working on a science experiment that is borderline magic. We are going to create and witness the power of a static charge!

For this experiment you will need:

  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • One balloon ( we used a standard-sized one, size shouldn’t really matter)
  • A mixing bowl
  • A large spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • Adult supervision

Begin your experiment by gathering the necessary materials.


Next, add your cornstarch and vegetable oil into your bowl. 

Stir your mixture with your spoon until it is free of any lumps. You will want to achieve a fairly runny consistency in order to get the desired results from this experiment. 

Next, blow up your balloon and tie it.

It is now time to statically charge your balloon. This can be done by  rubbing the balloon against your hair, shirt, or a rug using  a back and forth motion for a few seconds (for best results and a little humor, we suggest using your hair). 


Helpful tips:

  • The experiment will not work if your balloon makes contact with another object, as this causes the balloon to lose its static charge.
  • ay attention to which part of the balloon you rubbed. The part that made contact with your hair or other charging surface is the only area of the balloon that will have enough static charge to noticeably affect the cornstarch mixture.

Now it’s time to observe something really cool! Take your balloon and hold it just above your mixing bowl, scoop some of the mixture onto your spoon.  Holding the spoon close to the charged side of the balloon slowly begin to drip the mixture down into the bowl.  Once you see the cornstarch mixture jump towards the balloon, try moving the spoon mixture away. You should notice that the cornstarch mixture is no longer “jumping” towards the balloon.


Scientific Explanation:

When you rub the balloon on a coarse surface (like your hair), you transfer electrons from the rubbed surface to the balloon,  giving the balloon additional electrons. These new electrons generate a negative static charge which are attracted to the cornstarch which has a neutral charge.

When an object has a negative charge, it will reject the electrons of other objects, and attract that object’s protons. When the neutrally charged object is light enough, like our dripping cornstarch, the negatively charged object will attract the lightweight object. One thing you might notice is that the cornstarch won’t be attracted to the balloon while it is in the bowl. This is because there are stronger forces acting on the cornstarch (like gravity) for the cornstarch mixture to jump up out of the bowl. By dripping the cornstarch, you are creating a thinner string of  corn starch molecules which will be light enough to be pulled by the static force of the charged balloon allowing it to  move and “jump” towards the balloon with ease.  










Volunteer Spotlight: Maggie M.

In this week’s Volunteer Spotlight, we’d like to introduce you to Maggie M:


I have been volunteering as an Animal Ambassador since the beginning of the summer in 2016. I try to volunteer as much as I can, which normally amounts to at least a couple of shifts per month.

I love working with people and getting to do that around animals and science are two of my favorite things. It is also really rewarding to give back to the community and to a place where so many childhood memories were made.

My most meaningful memories at the Science Center are the ones when I feel like I have made someone’s day or taught them something that they will remember.

I always laugh or smile when I hear a kid say “Wow!” or “Cool” or when I can blow their mind by saying the smallest thing, but it makes a big impact on them. Volunteering is always fun because I get to meet new people and learn new things as well. It makes me feel like I am always having a good time and helping others to do the same!

*The Animal Ambassador Program used to be an opportunity for students ages 13-17 that was offered only during the summer. We have now expanded the program to allow students that successfully completed the summer program to continue on as a volunteer through the school year. Maggie is one of 18 students to participate in the School Year Animal Ambassador Program!


Honey, Oh Sugar, Sugar!

After a year of providing hives for our European honey bees, we recently had our first honey extraction! On Sunday morning, August 7th the GSC team got to work preparing for the process. The GSC hives are maintained by volunteer Linda Walbridge and GSC’s Head of Horticulture & Grounds, Chandra Metheny.

Honey bees make hexagonal (6-sided) wax structures or honey combs on provided hive frames, where they store honey for winter. Have you ever wondered, what is honey? Bees collect nectar from flowers, break it down into simple sugars and then store it in honey combs. The bees work together to beat their wings, fanning the nectar to evaporate all liquid. What is left is a thick, sweet, sticky, delicious product called honey! Honey comes in different colors and flavors depending on what flowers and therefore nectar it started as. Honey is a special product that is engineered by nature to keep for a really long time and not ferment. In fact, intact, edible honey was found in the tomb of King Tut!


Fortunately, honey bees make more honey than the colony needs, which is why it is safe to extract excess honey. This process starts when the beekeeper smokes the hive to calm the bees. The beekeepers evaluate the hive’s overall health and check for hive beetles, mites or disease.

By placing a fumigator, or a hive cap coated in a smell the bees dislike, the bees move away from the top of the hive.

The keepers then pull out the top “super” or top box of the hive. Most of the honey will be in the top and since the bees have already moved away thanks to the fumigator, it is safe to take the super.Bees cap the honeycombs with bees wax so the honey doesn’t fall out. Beekeepers remove the caps with an uncapping scraper.


The scraper is used to remove the caps

The scrapped frames are placed into an extractor which allows the honey to flow out of the frames. The extractor works like a salad spinner. By spinning very quickly, centrifugal force, throws the honey to the sides of the machine. Then the beekeepers let it set to release any air bubbles after draining out through a strainer. Then the honey is placed into jars and it is ready to eat!


Honey extractor


Each year as the hives get older the amount of excess honey they produce will increase.The GSC staff will check the quality of the honey, and may provide some for the enrichment of our zoo animals on exhibit.