gravity

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challenges

  • Use all the different pieces in a run to see what they do and how they work.
  • Construct a run that goes for as long as possible. Time your run and record your time. How long did your run go for?
  • Make a run that goes for exactly 10 seconds!

Motion is the science of moving things. If you lift a ball and drop it, it will fall to the ground. This is because gravity is pulling it to the Earth.

If we put the ball on a ramp it still wants to go straight down, but the ramp is in the way. Gravity is pulling the ball straight down but the ramp forces the ball to go across while it's being pulled down. Depending on how slanted the slope is, it will go faster or slower.

Friction is made whenever two things touch or rub together. The ball rubs against the ramp as it rolls and it will make the ball slow down. This is why a rolled ball slows down as it rolls and will not  keep rolling forever.

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challenges

  • Place 5 coloured balls into an opening while holding it open. Make sure one ball is different coloured to the rest. Your challenge is to catch the odd one out.  Can you do it with the distraction of all the other balls? Good luck!
  • Have 3 people stand at different boxes and put a ball in at the same time. Which is the fastest route?
  • Put in as many balls as you like. Stand back with the bucket, and catch as many as you can.

Many living things have airways inside them. In mammals the airway attaches to the lungs which allows us to breathe. Humans need oxygen to breathe, which luckily is in the air all around us. This oxygen is made by plants, which convert the chemicals that we exhale (like carbon dioxide) into breathable air for us. This is why it’s so important for us to look after the plants around us and ensure they are here for our next generation.

Not all animals need air to breathe. For example fish have specialised lungs that allow them to breathe underwater called gills. Have you ever thought about your airway and how you breathe?

contours

challenges

  • See if you can make a lake or a mountain range!
  • Can you make a map of Australia?
  • See if you can change how a river runs and how the change of direction affects the surrounding environment.

The land around us has changed many times, as the Earth has gotten older. Changes in environmental factors and extreme weather conditions have forged the way the world looks today and will continue to do so for years to come.

Moorabbin is very close to the great Yarra River but rivers, like all aspects of the environment, can change over time. The width and direction of the river can change, as well as the strength of the  current, and the wildlife that live in the riverbanks.

Contours is an exhibit that shows you how contours on a map work. Contour maps are used to show the height of a map. Each line is at the same height. If the lines are close to each other it means that the slope is steep and if they are far apart the slope is more flat. Contours updates the contour lines as you move the sand around.

sound beam

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challenges

  • Make a song with your friends using classical instruments!
  • Can you all get the same note at once?
  • See if you can play your favourite song!

Sound travels through air in the form of vibrations! A vibration is when some parts of a material, which can be air, are compressed and some parts are expanded. Vibrations travel in waves. You can hear things because your ear picks up those vibrations in the air and your brain turns them into sounds. When sound travels through the air, they can bounce off of objects that they run into. Imagine waves in the ocean bouncing off rocks, it works in a similar way. We can also think of light as a wave too, even though it isn't caused by vibrations.

In the Sound Beam exhibit, there are light beams travelling from the ceiling to the floor! When you interrupt them with your hands, they bounce back to the sensor and it makes a sound, depending on how close your hand is to the sensor. Try moving your hand up and down, and try using different sound beams!

recharge

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challenges

  • Can you power the machine?
  • Try charging your phone by 10%. How long does it take?
  • See how fast you can go!

There are many different kinds of energy.  Some examples are chemical energy, gravitational energy, electrical energy, kinetic energy and heat. Energy is needed to move something, you use energy every day that you get from the food you eat! When we think of energy, we normally think of the energy used to power our homes and different devices we own. This type of energy is called electrical energy. Electrical energy can be generated from kinetic energy - the kind of energy that an object has when it moves. It's similar to a wind turbine, where the wind moves the blades and this movement generates electricity that can be used to charge electronic devices.

This is just like the Recharge bike! As you cycle on the bike, it generates electricity that you can use to charge your phone. Give it a try, it is also good good for your health! Place your wireless charging compatible phone on the indent and cycle away!

 

bridge

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challenges

  • Team up and see who can make a sturdy bridge the fastest!
  • What happens when the cornerstone isn't in the right place?

Bridges can be built using a very special shape to be strong. This shape is called a caternary arch. The word caternary comes from the Latin word for chain. This is because if you hold a chain loosely from two sides, the hanging chain will make a caternary arch. We use caternary arches because they are the best shape for an arch, and they apply forces the same all the way along the structure.

Sometimes we use a caternary arch for the shape of a bridge. We can use it in lots of different ways. We can have a caternary arch for the floor of the bridge, like walking on a hanging chain. We can make a suspension bridge that uses a hanging chain in the shape of a caternary arch to support the bridge. We can also create an inverted caternary arch for the floor of our bridge. This is what we have with bridge!

To assemble bridge, put the support pieces in first, then place the rest of the pieces on top. Remove the support pieces, and it will stay together! This is because of the special caternary arch shape, the forces will be spread smoothly through the bridge. You can even walk on it!

 

gyroscope

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challenges

  • Can you make the gyroscope float?
  • Try spinning it around and see how it feels!

Have you ever wondered why it is easy to stay upright while you ride a bike but when you come to a stop it is very difficult to balance on it? This is because of an idea in science called conservation of angular momentum. This means that something spinning will try to stay perpendicular to the axis of its spin. If you think about a bike, the wheel will try to stay upright as it spins around. A gyroscope is an interesting device that uses the idea of conservation of angular momentum, and lets us feel it.  As you tilt a gyroscope, you can feel the force of from it trying to conserve its angular momentum and it is more difficult to move. Gyroscopes are using in compasses and autopilot systems on planes as they are useful for measuring orientation and detecting change. For the gyroscope briefcase, charge it up and move it in different directions. Can you move it in some directions easier than others?

gears

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challenges

  • See how long you can make a chain of gears!
  • How many can you get to move by turning one?
  • How do you make some spin faster than others?

Gears (also known as cogs) are a very common part of any machine and is basically a wheel with teeth that can interlock with other teeth. They are very useful for transferring movement from one part of the machine to another. Clocks use many gears to keep the hands moving at different paces, so that you can tell the hour and the minute of the day.

Bikes also need gears to transfer the power from your pedaling to the movement of the wheels! A movement with one gear can produce a slower or faster movement in another gear based on the size of the gear. Changing the gear on your bike is a cool way to see this, where the same level of pedaling affects the wheel spin speed differently depending on the gear you're in!

animate

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challenges

  • Can you make a 5 second movie of some people talking?
  • How do you make it look like something is moving across the screen?
  • Try putting sound effects to your animation!

Stop motion animation is a very early form of filmmaking where objects in a scene are modified very slightly for each individual frame that is taken of the scene. These frames (photographs) are then shown together in order very quickly, giving the illusion that the objects are moving in time, and it is not a series of photographs. The show Wallace & Gromit is a famous stop motion animation, made using plasticine figures.

While it is very enjoyable to watch, it is very time-consuming to make a long movie, as you will see! They are shown at around 10-25 frames per second, and it can often take weeks to make only a few minutes of footage.

pendulum

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challenges

  • How many different patterns can you make? Try starting the pendulum from different points and see what happens! 
  • See if you can make a super small pattern. How about a really BIG one?
  • What’s the coolest pattern you can make?

A pendulum is a weight that is held up by a support that can swing freely. Pendulums have been used for many years to keep time because of a special property they have called isochronism. This means that the period of the swing or time it takes to swing once isn't affected by how how high it is swinging. This means that as your pendulum makes smaller and smaller swings because of air friction and the friction of where it is attached, it still takes the same amount of time to swing from one side to the other. The time it takes to swing also doesn't depend on how much the weight is, and is entirely to do with how long the string or rod is that is holding up the pendulum. You can test it for yourself!

Another cool thing about pendulums is if two pendulums are attached to the same support, they can synchronise! This means they will be swinging at the same time, but they generally do this in the opposite direction. This is because the vibrations along the support from the pendulums swinging slowly oppose each other and cancel each other out.

Fill the pendulum with sand and let it swing! Gravity and the earth’s rotation take over and create beautiful patterns called lissajous curves. A pendulum is a weight suspended in the air which can swing freely. Ours has a spot for you to put sand and some handles so you can swing it! It also has a very clever design that makes it shorter when swinging in one direction compared to the other. This makes it so the patterns it creates are not symmetrical.

kaleidoscope

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challenges

  • What happens if you spin the coloured wheels in different different directions to one another?
  • How about all in the same direction? 
  • Try spinning the wheels really slowly, what do you see!

The kaleidoscope was invented in 1816 by the Scottish scientist Sir David Brewster. They are made with some reflecting surfaces that are angled towards each other. This is what makes it so that you see symmetrical copies of objects that are out the other end. Most kaleidoscopes are made as kid's toys, in fact there are many easy guides to making kaleidoscopes online.

Spin the big coloured wheels in different directions, stand in front of one of the triangular holes and look through to the other side, what shapes and colours can you see?

momentum

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challenges

  • Try to beat a friend in the race!
  • Build the craziest looking car you can imagine! How did it go!? 
  • Try building a really small car and a really BIG car! How do they compare in speed?

Build a car, place it on the race track, push the handles down to start the race. What happens to the car’s speed as it goes down the hill? How about when it goes over the bump in the track? Momentum carries the car the track and all the way to the finish line!

Heavy things, or things that are moving fast have the greatest momentum. How could you use this information to build an even faster car!?

hoops

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challenges

  • How long can you keep the ball floating in the air? 
  • See if you can get the ball through both hoops! 

When you have the jet of air pointing upward, the ball stays floating in the same place! It doesn’t fall off because of Bernoulli’s principle. This principle tells us that the air on all sides of the jet coming out of the leaf blower is at a higher pressure than the fast moving air in the jet. If the ball tips to the side, it is pushed back into the centre by this high pressure air.

Can you think of any examples of the Bernoulli principle in your life?

super bounce

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challenges

  • Try dropping the balls from half way, what happens? 
  • With a friend, see who can get their top ball to bounce the highest! 
  • How about the lowest? 

Gently lift up the stack of balls, holding onto the big red one, and let them drop! What happens? Do you know why the white ball flies so high into the air?

When the bigger, heavier balls bounce off the ground they collide with the balls above them. When they hit a smaller ball at this speed, the smaller, lighter ball will move upwards at a much faster speed than it was dropped. This is because of something called conservation of momentum. Momentum is the speed of an object multiplied by its weight. This means that something like a big truck that is moving really slowly could have the same momentum as a bullet fired out of a gun. When two objects collide, we say that momentum is conserved. Objects can pass momentum from one to the other. If two balls are falling at the same speed and one weighs more than the other, it has a higher momentum. When the balls hit the ground, they collide, and the balls at the bottom will pass their momentum to the balls above them. 

tracer

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challenges

  • Can you trace the whole star with less than five mistakes?
  • How about all in one try!
  • Try and make as few mistakes as possible with a friend. Who has the sturdier hand!?

Look at the star in the mirror and trace the outline with the metal pen. Is the star ‘desrever’? Do you know how mirrors work? Light comes from a source like the sun, reflects off our bodies, reflects off the mirror and finally makes its way into our eyes.

Did you know that the image that our eyes see is actually upside down! Our brain has to flip this image so we can see the world the right  way up! 

puzzle

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challenges

  • Make something in the engineering zone and then make a small replica here!
  • Have a tower building competition with your friends!
  • Can you make a whole city?

bubbles

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challenges

  • Try to catch a bubble within another bubble!
  • See if you can put your friends inside a bubble (ask a staff member for help if you can’t - they love to do it)
  • How long can you balance a fog bubble in the air with the pipe?
  • Can you figure out how to hold a bubble in your hand?

A bubble is just a very thin skin of liquid holding some air inside it. The liquid skin is constantly moving and running, which is why the bubble appears to be flexible. Bubbles are always roughly spherical because this is the shape using the least surface area to contain its volume, decreasing tension.

Our giant bubble mix is made by adding detergent to water along with some other ingredients, which decreases tension allowing the skin to stretch! The colours of the skin show us the thickness, and dark areas are where it is thin. Bubbles are very delicate and don’t live long. Using the fog pipes, you can see how the air gets trapped in the bubble and what happens when it bursts.

light writer

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challenges

  • Who can write the longest word before it all disappears?
  • Can you write your name?
  • Do a portrait of your friends!

The UV (ultraviolet) writing wall is very cool! Humans can’t see UV light on account of the electromagnetic wavelengths being too short for our eyes to register (for infrared light the wavelengths are too long). So that means we can only use UV light when there is a special fluorescent ink or surface that will reflect light which our eyes can register!

These surfaces can be made with glow-in-the-dark paint. UV light is the same light that is emitted by the sun, which we use to ‘charge’ our glow-in-the-dark objects. Therefore, it makes sense that casting a UV pen light onto a glow-in-the-dark wall will enable you to write messages that disappear as the UV light disappears!