About greensborosciencecenter

The Greensboro Science Center offers three fascinating attractions in one wild destination! We are the only facility in North Carolina that offers an aquarium, museum, and zoo. Spend the day with us and come nose to beak with playful penguins, get eye to eye with awesome otters, explore the human body, experience Mother Nature’s fury and fun, and encounter exotic animals like gibbons, meerkats, and lemurs!

Greensboro Science Center to Reopen (with Limited Capacity) June 15

After a 93-day closure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) will begin a limited reopening on June 15, 2020. Limited numbers of Greensboro Science Center members will be welcome on site Monday, June 15 and Tuesday, June 16. Non-members will be welcome beginning Wednesday, June 17. Timeslot reservations will be required.

GSC guests (both members and non-members) will be required to:

  • Make reservations in advance online at www.greensboroscience.org.
  • Limit groups to a maximum of 10 individuals.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet away from other visiting parties.
  • Follow a one-way path through the GSC.

GSC guests will be strongly encouraged to:

High-touch exhibits, attractions and experiences as well as spaces where it is difficult to maintain proper social distance will be closed. This includes Hands-On Harbor (stingray touch tank), SciPlay Bay, the OmniSphere Theater, Adventure Theaters, the lower level of the museum, Inside Tracks behind-the-scenes experiences and Jeansboro Junction.

Glenn Dobrogosz, CEO of the GSC, says, “Like our brand new fishing cat kittens, we will be taking extremely safe and calculated baby steps as we initiate this reopening process. We know that these first few weeks will be highly limited, but we hope you will come back to see and say hello to your favorite animals.

“We are excited that when guests return they will be able to see our brand new outdoor Komodo Dragon exhibit and the incredible construction progress as we continue to build the largest expansion in the history of the GSC — Revolution Ridge.

“Lastly, the Rotary Club of Greensboro is wrapping up their incredible carousel project. Once COVID-19 has passed, the GSC looks forward to this amazing public grand opening.”

Virtual Nature Tots: Pollinator Parade

Guest post by Erin Votaw, GSC Educator

ErinHello my preschool science buddies! If you aren’t familiar with Nature Tots programs at the Greensboro Science Center, let me introduce myself. My name is Erin and I am a part of the Education department here at the Greensboro Science Center. I have been teaching Nature Tots classes, summer camps and grant programs for the past 10 years.  I thought it may be fun to investigate some of the topics we didn’t get to meet up for in our Nature Tots class. We always have such a fun time together on Tuesdays and I look forward to the time when we get back to the fun, together in our special place with visiting animals and keeper talks. The GSC is working hard to keep the animals happy but I know they miss seeing your sweet faces checking on them.

I am excited to be back with you for another adventure. Let’s get busy!  The temperatures and world around us are continuing to change. What are you noticing using your science tools (eyes, ears, nose, hands)? Have you been able to enjoy some fresh, delicious strawberries lately? Yum! There are so many exciting changes happening and things to look forward to right outside our door and for the upcoming summer season. I thought it would be nice to investigate how such beautiful and delicious things get their start in earnest during the spring season.  

We’ve talked about what a plant needs to grow on a couple of occasions, so let’s review that first. Water, soil and sunshine are key ingredients to getting those food factories working producing the food that the plant needs to grow and hopefully provide us with some yumminess! Remind me why exactly it is that plants can’t come over for dinner, go to the grocery store or pick-up Chick-fil-A? Oh yes, they have roots that keep them in the ground during most wind storms and provide the water to the leaves. Those roots, like our straws in our chocolate milk, guide the water up to the leaves where the sunshine allows photosynthesis to occur. This is a big science word but really just means the process where the plant uses carbon dioxide from the air, water and sunshine to produce the sugar food it needs to grow.  

Here is something to try to help explain this process.

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If you took some celery, have an adult help you cut the end off so that they aren’t attached to one another, but are individual stalks. Next, put the celery piece into some mixed up food coloring and water…watch what happens overnight. Eventually, the leaves of the celery (which were previously “celery-colored”) will have some of the color of food coloring you added to the water, but the celery stalk does not show any food coloring change. We didn’t put the entire stalk of celery in the red water, so how come only the leaves show the red coloring? How does that happen? Do you notice the end of  the celery looks like it has some colored dots?

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Hmmm, maybe a clue to some activity! If you break the celery and look at the middle, you can see with your eyes and even using magnifying glass, you will see those tubules holding the colored water. 

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You can touch the tubules and not get the color on you!! Plants use these tubules like our straws to transport needed water up to the leaves, like we move chocolate milk from the glass to our mouth – Yum!! And very cool! Who knew that plants did cool stuff like that on the inside???? Now that we see how this can happen, let’s put this all back together with the leaves food factories. To get the best amount of sunshine for photosynthesis, the branches hold the leaves up to collect the sunshine that provides the energy to turn on and keep that food factory running, and hence the plant growing. And most importantly, producing more yumminess.

But did you know there is another process that is vital to the success of all the delicious foods we enjoy? And it involves some familiar flying friends! The process of pollination is used by thousands of plants grown world wide! Everything from apples, bananas, pumpkins, chocolate, melons, peaches, vanilla, almonds, squash, cucumbers, avocado, mango, raspberries and so many more! Now I am hungry for a tasty snack! When our flying friends drink the nectar from the flowers of these growing foods they usually land or touch the flower. As they touch the flower they get pollen stuck to their legs and body. Hmmm, something to think about here to help explain, or if you are still hungry, even give a try. Have you ever eaten some cheesy crackers? What happens when you are enjoying your tasty snack and it’s time to turn the page on the book you are reading? I notice that my cheesy fingers leave a smudge mark on the page, tv remote or even my shirt! Think of that like pollen that got on you from visiting a flower for some nectar, and now it has gotten on something else! This is how pollination works. 90% of all flowering plants rely on animals for pollination, not the wind just to blow the pollen around the sky. Bees, butterflies, flies, hummingbirds, insects, moths beetles, wasps and even bats are excellent pollinators. Bees do most of the pollination work and are paid in honey!!

bee pollinator shutterstock_110485346

Now I know that bees, hornets and wasps aren’t our favorite friends, but they are super important if you like to eat those delicious treats from the garden like I do! Bees are an interesting group to investigate. Do you remember the name of where bees live? They are found all over the world except Antarctica, living in their hives with their colony bee family. There is only one queen per colony and she lays all the eggs! Phew! The female workers build the hive for the colony and search for food, while the males fly around and search for the pollen from the plants. This means they are the ones that you see flying around your yard or outdoor space are the male honey bees. They are on a hunt for plants with nectar for a yummy drink and also to take some back to the hive to make honey. But in the process of gathering the nectar from their sources, the legs of the bees get covered in the pollen and share it between each flower they visit, over and over again. Kind of like us with the cheesy crackers… Cool!

Bees’ wings beat about 200 times per second as they fly around – this just makes me want to take a nap. When they get back to the hive they “share” the location of the found pollen with their hive mates through tail wags and dances as directions so their bee family can go and find a great nectar site. At this time, the bees need our continued help to survive and so they can continue to pollinate treats for us!

Here at the Greensboro Science Center we are lucky enough to have our own bee colony!  The latest from keeper Mike is the new colony has arrived and continues to check out its surroundings. The hive is located in the garden area near the amphitheater entrance to the barn. We like to think of it as a “pollinating pocket” that is home to flowering plants that benefit from the bees and any butterflies! On your next visit be sure to stop by the colony to say hello to our pollinating friends and check their hive out, from a distance of course! In a previous post, we have blogged about the care of our honeybees with tons of info and lots of pictures.  Check it out here https://greensborosciencecenter.wordpress.com/tag/honeybees/.

I hope to bring you more blogs and activities to help keep you engaged in our science world.  If you have a Pinterest account check out some fun activities on this board “Trees, Plants and Pollination” (https://www.pinterest.com/evotaw6034/boards/).  There are other boards there from the many camps and programs I have worked on, so have some fun with that as well! Be on the lookout for more content from the Greensboro Science Center behind the scenes, keeper talks, activities and adventures for all to enjoy!  I hope to see you again soon — until then have fun and remember science is everywhere!

 

Virtual Nature Tots: Egg-citing Science

Guest post by Erin Votaw, GSC Educator

ErinIf you aren’t familiar with Nature Tots programs at the Greensboro Science Center, let me introduce myself. My name is Erin and I am a part of the Education department here at the Greensboro Science Center. I have been teaching Nature Tots classes, summer camps and grant programs for the past 10 years.  I thought it may be fun to investigate some of the topics we didn’t get to meet up for in our Nature Tots class. We always have such a fun time together on Tuesdays and I look forward to the time when we get back to the fun, together in our special place with visiting animals and keeper talks. The GSC is working hard to keep the animals happy but I know they miss seeing your sweet faces checking on them.

Hello again, my preschool science buddies! I am excited to be back with you for another adventure. Let’s get busy! Spring is in the air and the temperatures, trees, flowers and animals are making changes. One of the most popular activities around this time of year is talking about eggs. Do you know which animals are oviparous?  

Oviparous is certainly a big science word that we don’t hear very often. It is the type of word that helps scientists classify animals into groups for ease of learning. Kind of like herbivore and carnivore (remember those words from talking about the dinosaurs?). Same deal here, just not used as often. Oviparous helps us know that group is together because those animals have their offspring by laying eggs. Can you think of animals that lay eggs? Most fish, reptiles and all birds are oviparous. Less than 2% of fish (goldfish, for example) and 20% of reptiles (boa snakes, for example) have live births of their offspring – no egg is laid, so they are not oviparous, but viviparous (have live young). This could be a result of where they live in the world. 

There are only two mammals that lay eggs, all other mammals give birth to live young that are either dependent upon mom for everything or are ready to go on their own. The echidna and duck-billed platypus of Australia are the only mammals that lay eggs.

Book-ChickensArentTheOnlyOnesThere is a really sweet book that is well illustrated about oviparous animals called “Chickens aren’t the only ones” by Ruth Heller.  The story talks about chickens and other birds, reptiles, insects, fish, amphibians and even the mammals that are exceptions to the rule with a rhyming flow and beautiful illustrations.

Now that you know what an oviparous animal is, let’s investigate and learn more. Each animal’s egg comes with its own characteristics that can be different. These can include size, colors, shapes and even shell texture! Not surprisingly, the largest egg comes from the ostrich, followed by the emu and rhea. The smallest egg comes from the smallest bird. Anyone? The hummingbird!

Eggs-Ostrich-Chicken-Hummingbird

We are also familiar with turkey and chicken eggs that we see more frequently.

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We also can recognize the cardinal (North Carolina state bird) and bluebird eggs based on their coloring. Maybe you have seen these eggs in your yard recently.  

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What is going on inside that egg? There are some different parts that play important roles in the egg’s development. When we look at an egg, we notice the outer shell. It may be bumpy or smooth and dark or light in color, but the egg shell is critical to the animal for a couple of reasons. We know what happens when we drop an egg right? Oops! Egg shells are made of calcium carbonate which is similar to the calcium phosphate that make up our teeth. If we gently tap our teeth with our fingernails, you may hear a click sound similar to that if you did it to an eggs shell. Strong enough to be protective, but still thin enough to allow air to pass through. Wow, eggs can breathe!  

Experiment: Bouncy Egg

Because of that calcium carbonate of the egg shell we can use science to make the egg rubbery and almost bouncy like a ball! Also, I have a bunch of hard boiled eggs left over from Easter so I thought this would be fun to play with as well. And my favorite color is blue, so that is why I picked my blue Easter egg! Take one of your hard boiled eggs and put it in a clear glass of vinegar overnight (up to a week changing the vinegar every couple days you will completely remove the shell almost making it translucent).

EggshellInVinegar

Keep checking on the egg in the vinegar and look for any activity or changes. Little bubbles may come off the egg as the acetic acid in the vinegar attacks the calcium carbonate of the eggshell. Over time, the color of the eggs may change as well. The next day or later, get the egg out of the vinegar and investigate. Shine a flashlight through the egg. What does it look like compared to a regular egg shell? What does the egg smell like now? Feel like? Move like? Weird, right? Where did the hard outer shell go and how did it change? You may have actually dissolved the calcium carbonate (what makes the shell stiff), leaving behind the permeable part of the shell making it now rubbery and bouncy. How high can you bounce your rubbery egg?????

WATCH: Rubber Egg Bounce

Experiment: Egg in a Bottle

Another cool trick is to fit an egg into a bottle. When you first look at this you think, Miss Erin, there is no way that egg can get inside that bottle! But wait, I say….Science!!! 

  • First peel your hard-boiled egg. 
  • Next, with the help of an adult, set a small piece of paper on fire and drop it into the bottle.
  • Before the fire goes out, set the egg on top of the bottle, small side pointed downward.  

As the temperature inside the bottle changes, air pushes the egg into the bottle!  Magic!!! How did that happen? Why science my darlings, of course. But seriously, the answer has to do with the air pressure inside the bottle. You changed the temperature inside the bottle and that caused the air to rush inside the bottle, taking the egg with it!

WATCH: Egg in a Bottle

Getting the egg out should work with the opposite right?  Can you think of how to get “outside” air back into the bottle?  While holding the jar upside down and the egg is in the opening of the bottle, try using a straw to put “outside” air back inside the bottle to help re-balance the air pressure. By blowing into the straw, you can create pressure inside the bottle that will make the air want to move out – and when it does, it’ll take the egg with it!

I hope to bring you more blogs and activities to help keep you engaged in our science world.  Be on the lookout for more content from Greensboro Science Center behind the scenes, keep talks, activities and adventures for all to enjoy!  I hope to see you again soon, until then have fun and remember science is everywhere!