Discovery Center Opens New STEM Exhibitions

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Discovery Center is excited to open two new exhibitions this Fall relating to STEM. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Discovery Center’s goal is to encourage and excite young learners about science and to help grow the nextgeneration of worldclass inventors, engineers and doctors. Figure it Out! opened in September. Opening November 20 is Simple Machines.

Simple Machines
Discovery Center’s Simple Machines gallery is transformed with all new exhibits. A simple machine is a device for altering the magnitude or direction of a force. The six basic types are the lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. Guests will learn about these classic devices while having fun!

Using a giant Archimedes’ Screw, visitors can set in motion a whirlwind of activity on our transparent interactive simple machines wall. The giant screw lifts balls up to the ceiling, and visitors can circulate the balls through a maze of levers, inclined planes, wheels, and wedges. Children can lift themselves off the ground in our new Pulley Chairs. The pulley chairs teach visitors how pulleys make work easier when they pull on a rope to lift themselves into the air. Each chair has a different number of pulleys and requires a different amount of force, for visitors to compare. We have also refurbished a museum favorite, the Lifting Lever, and added new interactives to our Gear Wall. Kids of all ages will have a great time learning how to make work easier as they extend a lever, add more pulleys, change the slope and assemble gears.

Figure It Out!
Opened September, 2012
Math is fun with Figure It Out! Figure It Out! consists of nine engaging activity centers where kids are encouraged to flip, fold, and figure out patterns and relationships while exploring shapes and symmetry, sequences, shadows, and transformations.

Visitors can create quilt and tile patterns, experiment with drum beat rhythms, identify three-dimensional mystery shadow shapes, fold origami to see its application to science, explore volume concepts using containers of different shapes and sizes and play with reflective symmetry. Exercise skills in measurement, algebra and geometry, and discover the links to art, music, science, and society.
Developed specifically for elementary through middle school aged children, the exhibition provides hands-on activities surrounded by a collection of related objects and images—-from blueprints and telescope lenses, to sneakers and rugs. Gathered from around the world, these collections illustrate how architects and product designers, craftsmen and scientists use the same skills that visitors can use to understand how math affects our everyday lives.

STEM education is a focus at both the national and state levels. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that 15 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations over the next 10 years will require significant mathematic or science preparation. Results from a national exam revealed that fewer than one-third of elementary and high school students have a solid grasp of science. Virtually any job that pays a living wage requires some knowledge of math or science.There is a national movement to make STEM more popular and important in schools. We hope to do our part to make science, technology, engineering and math exciting for boys and girls and to help grow future doctors, engineers, and scientists!

Both the Figure It Out! exhibition and the Simple Machines exhibition are sponsored by the Public Museum Capital Grants Program of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois State Museum. Additional support provided by Grainger; in memory of Vern Cassens; J.L. Clark, a CLARCOR company; Danfoss; Janet Kjellstrom Fund of Community Foundation of Northern Illinois; Marvin W. Dundore Jr. Memorial Fund; Forest City Gear; Rj Link International Inc.; Specialty Screw Corp.; UTC Aerospace Systems; and Viking Chemical.

Discovery Center Museum is a non-profit children’s science museum with over 200 hands-on exhibits, planetarium, special area for children 6 and under, and an award- winning outdoor Science Park. The museum is ranked #4 children’s museum in the nation by Child magazine and among the top 12 children’s museums by Discovery Center is located inside Riverfront Museum Park, 711 North Main Street, Rockford, IL 61103. General admission to the Museum is $7 adults, $7 children (ages 2-17) and free to Museum members and children age 1 and younger. Hours of operation are: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. For additional information regarding DiscoveryCenter Museum, call (815) 963-6769 or log onto our website at

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