Exploratorium Joins The Amgen Tour of California, February 17-24
The Exploratorium joins Amgen at the 2008 Amgen Tour of California, an eight-day, approximately 650-mile professional bicycle stage race, to present a collection of exhibits and demonstrations designed to reveal some of the unexpected science behind bicycling and provide insight into the science of biotechnology.
Funded by a grant from Amgen, the Exploratorium will join the Amgen Tour of California’s Lifestyle Festival at each of the race’s finish cities (Palo Alto Prologue/February 17, Santa Rosa/February 18, Sacramento/February 19, San Jose/February 20, San Luis Obispo/February 21, Solvang Time Trial/February 22, Santa Clarita/February 23, Pasadena/February 24), and provide exhibits and demonstrations to attendees for free.
“Amgen is again thrilled to have the Exploratorium join us at the Amgen Tour of California,” said Joe Miletich, Amgen senior vice president, Research and Development. “As a biotechnology company that develops innovative and vital medicines to help millions of patients fight serious disease, it is important to us to demonstrate how science works."
The Exploratorium booth will include demonstrations and activities for all ages that show just how hard a pumping heart works, how to measure lung capacity, how much electricity pedaling a bike generates, and how to extract and study DNA. The public can also learn more about the science of cycling at www.exploratorium.edu/cycling.
This is the second year that Amgen has provided a grant to fund the Exploratorium’s participation in the Amgen Tour of California Lifestyle Festival. Among the exhibits and demonstrations from the Exploratorium to be featured at the Lifestyle Festival is Tennis Ball Squeeze, where you’ll learn that the effort it takes to squeeze a tennis ball is about the same as your heart muscle exerts every time it beats. Try squeezing a tennis ball 60x a minute and feel the burn -- and that’s for a resting heart. Imagine if you’d just done a bicycle tour and were pumping at 120x a minute. Take care of that heart. And your hand will hurt.
At the DNA demo, help extract DNA from wheat germ by breaking down its cellular structure. This is the coding that gives instructions for the proteins that it takes to be you. Then play with model amino acids to construct some of those proteins in 3-D.
The other exhibits available for play include:
Pedal Generator takes pedaling to a new level -- transforming your efforts into electricity and dramatically demonstrating the amount of work or energy it takes to create electrical power. Sit and pedal, this time not to go anywhere, but to crank an electric generator through a crankshaft. In front of you are three headlight lamps, two current meters, and a set of switches to turn on either one or all of the lamps, or none at all. Like first gear, it’s easy to pedal and crank the generator when no lights are on. With one lamp turned on, the pedaling becomes surprisingly difficult and a good amount of effort must be put into lighting the lamp. This provides a physical example of the large amount of work required to produce enough electricity for just one lamp. With that basic green message, try it with three lamps on. You’ll have to pedal furiously to try to keep the three lamps at the same brilliance (in electrical terms, identical current in and out) as the original single lamp.
Bicycle Legs is a mechanical representation of human legs pedaling a bicycle. Each leg is powered by two air cylinders, which represent the two major leg muscles. Visitors can activate each of the four cylinders separately. By carefully timing the activation of the cylinders, it is possible to get the legs to pedal the bike. With a little practice, visitors can get the legs pumping by using only two of the air cylinder "muscles."
DNA Model allows visitors to construct a strand of DNA out of paired pieces that follow the same assembly rules as real DNA. Made of wood and plastic, these are accurately scaled models that allow visitors to experience some of the same features discovered by Watson and Crick, like pairings of nucletides and the basis of the coding of DNA information (the ordering of nucletides.)
Cell Model allows visitors to compare the internal organelles of animal and plant cells using physical fiberglass and resin models.
The Exploratorium is a public educational institution for peoples of all ages. This innovative museum of science, technology, art, and human perception provides for the general public, even those with the most limited scientific knowledge, an experience enabling them to understand science and nature. This year, the Exploratorium's audience numbers over 20 million at exhibits at science centers and other locations worldwide. More than 500,000 visitors will come to the Exploratorium itself to interact with the original, hands-on exhibits; 6,000 teachers will participate in professional development programs; 128,000 students and teachers visit on school field trips; and another 5,000 students, many from San Francisco’s underserved neighborhoods, will benefit from the Children's Educational Outreach Program. 50,000 copies of Exploratorium publications are sold, and its award-winning Web site receives 20 million unique visits during the year. At the 4th Science Center World Congress in Rio in 2005, science centers from five continents ranked the Exploratorium as the number one science center in the world.