Museum of Science Celebrates April as Earth Month

April 22, 2012 by  
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    BOSTON, Mass. — To celebrate April 2012 Earth Month, the Museum of Science, Boston offers an array of “green” exhibits and shows. Among them: the April 20 premiere of the poignant giant-screen film To the Arctic; a Wind Turbine Lab and interactive displays; the Energized! exhibit; and a new low-energy, but dazzling, light sculpture “Capturing the Arc.”

    On Earth Day, April 22, special educational activities will involve hands-on Design Challenges related to wind power and sustainable buildings, “green chemistry” demonstrations, presentations of live animals and their ecosystems, as well as current research related to Earth and the environment.

    “We want to engage people of all ages in building the scientific thinking and engineering skills they need to thrive while also supporting Earth’s ability to sustain life,” says David Rabkin, the Museum’s Farinon director of current science and technology. “Science helps us understand the world. Engineering enables us to solve problems, changing the world by creating technologies and new ways to live. Together, science and engineering can help us design innovations that take into account their consequences, nurture the diversity of life, and create a better future for our planet.”

    April 20 through summer 2012
    To The Arctic Narrated by Oscar┬« winner Meryl Streep, the stunning documentary adventure follows a mother polar bear and her twin seven-month-old cubs as they navigate the frigid Arctic wilderness, a bellwether of climate change. Rising air and surface sea temperatures, melting glaciers, and dwindling summer ice pack are critically affecting polar bears. Captivating footage takes visitors close to this family’s struggle to survive. Produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, MacGillivray Freeman Films, and IMAX Corporation. Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved. IMAX┬« is a registered trademark of IMAX Corporation.

    Temporary through May 6
    Geckos: Tails to Toepads
    Visitors take on the role of biologist, trying to find and watch more than 60 exotic geckos in lush naturalistic habitats. The exhibit explores all aspects of these intriguing creatures, with their bulging eyes, night vision, sticky toepads, and disposable body parts, as well as their importance to ecosystems and potential for biotechnology. Geckos: Tails to Toepads was created by Peeling Productions at Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland. Sponsored locally by Jabberwock Reptiles.

    Neri Oxman: At the Frontier of Ecological Design features “raycounting,” a method for generating 3D objects based on light conditions that goes beyond photo sculpting. Working at the interface of environmental design, science, and art, Oxman is inventing new ways to design, fabricate, assemble, and maintain building “skins” to respond to load, light, and heat simultaneously. She uses principles of biomicry, drawing from nature to find sustainable solutions to human problems.

    Making a Greener Tire: Orange is the New Green
    The interactive display uses tactile, visual and video elements to explain Yokohama Tire Corporation’s new BluEarth-1 technology, which combines oil extracted from orange peels with fine silica and natural rubber to form a nano-blend compound. The technology eliminates a significant amount of the petroleum-based products used in tire manufacturing and conserves fuel.

    The Energized! exhibit, primarily funded by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, features two working examples of renewable energy in its exploration of sunlight, wind, moving water, and other self-replenishing resources. The first shows how the 154 photovoltaic panels on the Museum’s roof generate the electricity needed to power the Theater of Electricity’s lightning shows. The second example is the nation’s only rooftop Wind Turbine Lab, with five different small-scale turbines. At Catching the Wind displays inside, visitors find out how the turbines produce electricity, see live and historical wind and power data, and learn about the trade-offs among ways to generate electricity. Visitors can also try the Wind Power Challenge game, choosing a location and a turbine type to see if it could power their home, business, or community. With limited wind resources, the Museum’s primary goal is to demonstrate small-scale, building-integrated wind power and to share that knowledge with the general public and energy professionals.

    Visitors will also discover the energy mixes that light up Boston. Experimenting with different energy combinations, they can weigh the trade-offs and see the effects of their choices. Nearby, they will explore innovative projects to harness and save energy that involve how cow waste can generate energy, potholes can add power to a car engine, panels in space might catch sunshine, and more. Visit: and

    Capturing the Arc, a spectacular large-scale sculpture, created by Peabody, Mass., artist Joey Nicotera, using the latest in lighting technology from OSRAM SYLVANIA, transforms the Museum lobby into an ever-changing, multicolored light show after dark. Hanging from a 40-foot ceiling, 27 eight-foot-long arcs featuring a total of 4,385 LEDs can create up to 16.7 million colors but together they use only 300 watts on average — less power than a plasma TV!

    Also in the lobby, a playful interactive Energy Tree, made possible by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, explains how the sun powers our world and challenges visitors to work together using their own energy to bring the tree to life. As visitors circle the aluminum tree, 8-foot-long iridescent leaves on each of its four sides seem to change, becoming transparent, reflective or taking on different colors. Each side of the tree represents a renewable energy source – sun, water, plants, and wind. Visitors can make two tree leaves spin by turning a wheel. But four visitors doing it together simultaneously will make them all spin and the whole tree come to life.

    Butterfly Garden
    Visitors can experience a living exhibit filled with exotic plants and free-flying butterflies from New England and across the globe, witnessing how butterfly colors and wing patterns give them protection strategies such as camouflage, warning coloration, and mimicry. Labels highlight key behaviors to watch for, such as feeding, courting, and basking. Purchase of timed tickets is required.

    This glassed-in beehive allows visitors to observe these important pollinators in a natural setting. Watch as thousands of them travel in and out of the colony and perform a variety of jobs, including collecting pollen, making wax, capping honey, and tending to the brood. Look for the queen bee and learn how she lays close to 2,000 eggs per day!

    A Bird’s World
    This exhibit features a specimen of every bird found in New England. Interactive exhibits offer insight into bird behavior, and birders will also find a useful bird interactive “dictionary.” Birds naturally detect predators. Their sounds and movements indicate hidden predators lurking around them all the time. Here, visitors can learn how to interpret the bird language they hear.

    EARTH DAY Sunday, April 22
    –10:30 am – 12:30 pm Design Challenges ( include building and testing prototype solutions to challenges related to wind power and green buildings that involve the engineering design cycle. In Design a Windmill, visitors explore independent variables and data-driven design by testing blade designs and configurations and placing them in a wind stream. Online visitors can also design, build, and test an energy-efficient birdhouse roof:
    –11:30 am and 12:30 Current Science on Earth and the Environment
    Museum educators and guest scientists will give live presentations about current research and issues related to Earth and the environment. (Blue Wing, Level 1)
    –11:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Live Animal Presentations introduce scaly, furry, and feathered inhabitants of the Museum’s Live Animal Center and their adaptations to, impact on, and interaction with their native ecosystems. The first science and technology center to be a member of the Association of Zoos Aquariums, the Museum is active in the red-bellied turtles Head Start program and the Species Survival Plan, helping to ensure the survival of its own cotton-top tamarins.
    –12:00-4:00 p.m. Chemists Celebrate Earth Day How can we prevent the escape of harmful chemicals into the environment? How is chemistry helping us design safer plastics and greener buildings? Find out more about green chemistry through hands-on activities led by students from local colleges and high schools and by the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society (NESACS). (Blue Wing, Lower Level)

    Friday, April 27 10 a.m.
    Designing Technologically Important Materials and Devices for Energy, the Environment and Medicine Angela Belcher, W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT, will discuss her research on viral batteries and genetically-modified bacteria that remove CO2 from the atmosphere and put it into building tiles. Her batteries are non-toxic and the CO2-loving bacteria address one of our biggest environmental problems that leads to global climate change.

    Sunday, April 29 7:00 p.m.
    Let’s Talk About Sustainable Seafood
    Is the future of this important protein source at risk? The free forum event, featuring a crash course in “Seafood 101,” shares informed perspectives on threats to fish stocks and marine ecosystems in the context of New England’s economy. Participants engage with experts in the seafood world, such as fishermen, retailers, environmental scientists. Registration free at: Part of the Cambridge Science Festival and Let’s Talk About Food series. Presented in collaboration with the New England Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Program. Sponsored by Whole Foods Market.

    3-D Digital Cinema Don the classic eyewear and take off on an adventure in perception with short films showing on a state-of-the-art digital projection system.
    –Turtle Vision
    Coral reefs, breaching whales, and a dancing octopus add to the adventure in this inspiring coming-of-age story illustrating the importance of protecting our oceans.
    –Wild Ocean
    Huge schools of sardines encounter predatory humans, gannets, seals, dolphins, sharks, and penguins in a feeding frenzy off the coast of South Africa. Wild Ocean is a production of Giant Screen Films and Yes/No Productions.

    All the above included with Exhibit Halls admission unless otherwise indicated. For dates, exact times, and admission, please visit:

    GREEN GIFTS AT THE MUSEUM STORE (All can be purchased by calling 617-589-0320.)

    –Museum of Science 17 oz. Foldable Water Bottle $9.99
    Available in red, blue, silver, and green, easy to clean, free of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), and reusable, this metallic waterbottle is perfect for storing beverages.
    –The Earth Box $8.99
    This kit includes Planet Hero!, a 128-page book by Lauren Wechsler Horn with tips, facts, and Earth-friendly art projects and 25 color stickers. A reusable lunch bag.
    –365 Ways To Save the Earth $14.99
    “This book contains an awe-inspiring picture of the natural world for every day of the year, accompanied by tips on saving the environment, from how to dispose of cooking oil to saying no to disposable products.” The Independent (London)
    –5-Minute Shower $6.99
    The 5-minute timer attaches to the shower with a suction cup. Five-minute showers could save the average household over $100 a year.
    –Leaves $24.99
    The goal of this game about life, earth, humanity, and their relationship is to “green” the board by earning “leaves.” Players become land, air, or water creatures moving among locations around Earth, answering questions, requesting help, or rolling the die.

    In 2011 Boston Mayor Thomas Menino recognized the Museum with a Green Business Award and Richard Rossi, deputy city manager of Cambridge, presented the Museum with a Go Green Award for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

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