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Jessica Strick

Jessica Strick
Lead Exhibit Developer

In her ideal world, all exhibits would be immersive experiences, and she has started many ideas off with “if we had a room . . . .” A few pivotal moments led her to this interest: realizing, as a Bay Area Discovery Museum guide, that there was a career in making such things as indoor ship and crawling tunnels; deciding, despite having studied history and film, that she actually wanted to be in a workshop making things; creating, to her roommates’ ire, a bathroom entirely filled with pink Slinkies; and then, digging way back, remembering the delight and wonder she felt walking into her childhood home transformed by her big sister into a birthday party funhouse. An underlying interest in playfulness inspires Jessica to make exhibits that allow people to explore both physical and social phenomena by playing with materials, whether theater gels, toy robots, jelly beans, or colorful yarn. 

Watch an interview with Jessica.

What’s going on?

A strobe light and a giant phosphorescent screen offer endless posing possibilities in this popular and long-lived exhibit favorite. 

The shadow-catching phosphorescent material on this wall is the same as you’ve probably seen in various “glow-in-the-dark” products. Energy from incoming light gets absorbed in this material in the form of excited electrons, that is, electrons raised to a higher energy state. As these electrons gradually de-excite, they release their energy as a visible glow.

Glow in the dark products, a role of tape and a bird toy Glow-in-the-dark products contain phosphorescent compounds—usually either zinc sulfide or strontium aluminate—that absorb the energy of incoming light and then release it over time. Photo © Lưu Ly.

What’s going on?

When the ball is suspended in the air stream, the air flowing upward hits the bottom of the ball and slows down, generating a region of higher pressure. The high-pressure region of air under the ball holds the ball up against the pull of gravity.

A diagram shows how air flows around a floating beach ball. When you pull the ball partially out of the air stream, air curves around the ball and flows outward. This outward-flowing air exerts an inward force on the ball, in keeping with Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Similarly, the downward flow of air beneath a helicopter exerts an upward force on the blades of the helicopter.

You can also explain the ball’s behavior in terms of Bernoulli’s principle: When the speed of a fluid increases, the pressure in that fluid decreases. As you pull the ball out of the air stream, air flows faster over only one side of the ball. The difference in pressure between the still air and the moving air pushes the ball back into the center of the air stream.

Related Exhibits

What’s going on?

A strobe light and a giant phosphorescent screen offer endless posing possibilities in this popular and long-lived exhibit favorite. 

The shadow-catching phosphorescent material on this wall is the same as you’ve probably seen in various “glow-in-the-dark” products. Energy from incoming light gets absorbed in this material in the form of excited electrons, that is, electrons raised to a higher energy state. As these electrons gradually de-excite, they release their energy as a visible glow.

Glow in the dark products, a role of tape and a bird toy Glow-in-the-dark products contain phosphorescent compounds—usually either zinc sulfide or strontium aluminate—that absorb the energy of incoming light and then release it over time. Photo © Lưu Ly.

What’s going on?

When the ball is suspended in the air stream, the air flowing upward hits the bottom of the ball and slows down, generating a region of higher pressure. The high-pressure region of air under the ball holds the ball up against the pull of gravity.

A diagram shows how air flows around a floating beach ball. When you pull the ball partially out of the air stream, air curves around the ball and flows outward. This outward-flowing air exerts an inward force on the ball, in keeping with Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Similarly, the downward flow of air beneath a helicopter exerts an upward force on the blades of the helicopter.

You can also explain the ball’s behavior in terms of Bernoulli’s principle: When the speed of a fluid increases, the pressure in that fluid decreases. As you pull the ball out of the air stream, air flows faster over only one side of the ball. The difference in pressure between the still air and the moving air pushes the ball back into the center of the air stream.

Related Exhibits