Media Release: “Wicked Plants” Author to Speak at Science Café

AmyStewart_Headshot

Amy Stewart, author of “Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities”

GREENSBORO, NC – The Greensboro Science Center (GSC) will host Amy Stewart, the author of “Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities,” at a Science Café on Wednesday, April 4 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Stewart’s book is the basis of Wicked Plants: The Exhibit, hosted at the GSC through May 6, 2018. Admission to the Science Café is free.

About the Science Café

Join author Amy Stewart for a closer look at the medicinal, mind-altering and mysterious properties of plants, from strangling vines to heart-stopping seeds and even a leaf that started a war! Amy blends science with history in this talk, a companion piece to Wicked Plants: The Exhibit. Wickedly tasty snacks will be provided before the talk.

Stewart will also be signing copies of her book, “Wicked Plants,” available for sale at the event. Her talk is geared towards older children and adults.

This event is part of the North Carolina Science Festival, a month-long event that highlights the educational, cultural and financial impact of science in the state.

Amy Stewart Bio

Best-selling New York Times author Amy Stewart is no stranger to the perils and pleasures of the natural world. To date, she has written nine books, including “The Drunken Botanist,” “Wicked Bugs” and “Flower Confidential.” Beyond putting pen to paper, Amy travels the country as a highly sought-after public speaker whose spirited lectures have inspired and entertained audiences at college campuses, corporate offices, museums, gardens and libraries nationwide. She currently resides in Portland, Oregon, with her husband Scott with whom she owns an independent bookstore (so independent that it lives in California) called Eureka Books.

Amy’s books have been translated into 16 languages and her 2009 book, “Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities,” has been adapted into a national traveling exhibit entitled Wicked Plants: The Exhibit. She has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society’s Book Award and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award.

For more information on Amy, please visit amystewart.com.

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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.

2016-greensboro-science-center-gift-guide-membership

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!

Explanation of “An Electric Pickle”

WARNING: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! THIS EXPERIMENT USES 120V ELECTRICAL CURRENT. THIS IS STRONG ENOUGH TO CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH.

Electricity flows through substances known as conductors. Most conductors of electricity are solids, like metal wire. But some conductors can also be liquids. Dill pickles are made by soaking a cucumber in a brine solution high in salt (sodium chloride, NaCl). Salts are ions, atoms or molecules with a positive or negative charge, and they can conduct electricity when in a solution. This is why it is a bad idea to be swimming during a lightning storm!

The pickle has two metal conductors (silver skewers) placed inside of it; parallel to each other, but not touching. The gap between the skewers allows electricity to be conducted through the salty pickle. The skewers are then hooked up to a 120 volt electrical source. The electrical sparks, or an arc, between the skewers excites the sodium chloride ions causing them to emit a light. Sodium produces a yellow light. This is why the sodium vapor lights in parking lots give off a yellow light. If the pickle was made using potassium chloride instead, the light would be pink.

Some pickles seemed to last longer than others. One of our pickles glowed for over seven minutes. The buzzing sound you hear is the electrical arcs going between the two skewers. The electricity heating up the water inside the pickle is what creates the steam that escapes out the sides where the skewers are inserted. The pickle was greatly dried out and blackened on the inside when the experiment was over. Ick!

This demonstration can be seen live during our Electricity and Magnetism school science presentation. Click here for details.

Remember; DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

Let there be light!

Chemiluminescence Demo Video

Read on to learn about what’s happening in the video above:

Our scientist pours two solutions, labeled Solution A and Solution B, into two separate beakers (these solutions are respectively a Luminol mixture and Hydrogen Peroxide). [NOTE: Luminol is a “versatile” chemical that happens to be very good at demonstrating the turning of chemical potential energy into radiant, or light, energy.] He empties the two beakers into the tube apparatus, turns the lights off, then the magic happens as the solutions combine to make a glowing liquid! THIS is chemical potential energy turned radiant energy.

Some glowing “stuff” gets its light by way of a reaction called chemiluminescence. Chemiluminescent reactions are chemical reactions that yield light without producing much heat, which we think is pretty amazing. What else undergoes chemiluminescent reactions? To list a couple of common occurrences: fireflies and lightsticks.

Firefly

Firefly. Photo courtesy of nativeplantwildlifegarden.com

Why are we particularly excited about glowing stuff? Because Pajama Jam is almost upon us (tomorrow night), and there’s going to be a ton of glowing stuff there – glow-in-the-dark bowling, glow-in-the-dark ring toss, glow-in-the-dark bead necklaces, and more! AND now you know why these things can glow without burning us – they are undergoing chemical reactions which yield light with the production of very little heat…unlike, say, the light produced by a conventional lightbulb.

Tickets for Pajama Jam are available online here. We hope to see you there!

 

Pick Up an Ice Cube with a String

Pour salt over ice cube and string

Pour salt over ice cube and string

Materials
Full cup of water
Ice cube
Salt
~12 inches of string

Procedure
Put your ice cube in your cup of water.
Drape your piece of string across the ice cube; make sure there are a few inches of slack on each side.
Pour salt on top of the ice cube and string.
Wait for 60 seconds, then, taking the ends of the string in each hand, slowly lift the ice cube out of the water.

Results

Carefully lift ice cube

Carefully lift ice cube

You’ve picked up an ice cube using just a piece of string! How? According to explorable.com, the addition of the salt disrupts the state of equilibrium that existed between the ice cube and the water. The salt molecules begin to dissolve and mix with the water molecules; this changes the water’s rate of freezing. The rate of melting is now far quicker than the rate of freezing, causing the ice to melt rapidly. In order to restore the state of equilibrium, the water’s freezing point drops, causing the ice to freeze. The salt begins crystallizing and the ice ultimately refreezes around the string.

Waiting for the Snow to Start? Make a Snow Measuring Stick!

Decorated Measuring Stick

Decorated Measuring Stick

Materials:
Paint stir stick
Ruler
Marker
Assorted Decorations (paint, foam shapes, pipe cleaners, etc)

Procedure:

Paint your stir stick, if desired (we used white paint for our snowman).

Create a base line a couple of inches above the bottom of the stir stick to mark zero inches. From there, use your ruler to mark off each inch going toward the top of the stir stick.

Decorate your measuring stick as desired.

Once your measuring stick finishes drying, find a nice open spot that will receive the most snow. Press your measuring stick in the ground up to your base line.

Snow Stick in the Ground

Snow Stick in the Ground

Results:
As the snow falls, periodically check on your measuring stick. We’d love to see how much it snows in your area, so please take pictures and share on the Greensboro Science Center’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GreensboroScienceCenter!

Erin with Snow Stick

Erin with Snow Stick

Amphibian Lab

For the last year or so, the “Sea Lab” located on the lower level of the museum has been closed off from view. In the months leading up to the opening of the Carolina SciQuarium, this room was used to house fish before their exhibits were finished. Now that these animals have moved to their permanent homes in the SciQuarium, the old Sea Lab has been transformed into an Amphibian Lab.

Greensboro Science Center visitors can now take a peek into the lab to view the slimy residents therein. Currently, the Amphibian Lab is home to a young Hellbender, White’s Tree Frogs, and Yellow & Black Dart Frogs. All of these animals are displayed in the window for visitors to see. The remainder of the lab will be used as quarantine and holding areas as new animals arrive.

Yellow and Black Dart Frog

Yellow & Black Dart Frog

DID YOU KNOW
The class Amphibia is made up of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians. But what on Earth is a caecilian? These are amphibians who appear to be superficially similar to earthworms or snakes.

During Phase II of the GSC’s Master Plan, the Amphibian Lab will continue to metamorphose. The current plan is to convert this area into an educational wing featuring underground animals. In this “wUNDERWORLD,” visitors will encounter mysterious inhabitants of the dark, such as spiders, scorpions, leeches, and snakes.