Da Vinci Science Center
Da Vinci Science Center
|Location||Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Type||Science, Technology, Careers, Children|
|Visitors||142,000 participants annually|
|Public transit access||LANTA bus: 102, 322|
|Website||DaVinci Science Center|
The Da Vinci Science Center (DSC) is a science museum and nonprofit organization in Allentown, Pennsylvania, that has been a leader in "bringing science to life and lives to science", as its mission states, since 1992. Its slogan is Open for ExSCIting Possibilities.
The center excels in connecting people of all ages to the wonders of science in their lives, their creative curiosities, and tomorrow's innovative careers. Its engaging and highly-interactive experiences include a two-story exhibit floor; nearly three-dozen programs for visitors of all ages, students, educators, and community groups; and regional workforce initiatives that integrate limited-engagement exhibits with programs highlighting workforce development opportunities. The center's primary focus is introducing kids to the potential of the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The Da Vinci Science Center is located in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, approximately 65 miles north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and 90 miles west of New York, New York. Its primary service area in eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey is home to 4.9 million people.
- 1 History
- 2 Exhibits
- 2.1 Engineers on a Roll
- 2.2 PPL Electric Utilities Energy Zone
- 2.3 Tunnel Experience
- 2.4 Physics Playground
- 2.5 Forces of Nature
- 2.6 Animation Station
- 2.7 Built Like a Mack Truck
- 2.8 Deer Park Water Table
- 2.9 Hurricane Simulator
- 2.10 Invent-a-Car
- 2.11 KEVA Build It Up
- 2.12 Marine Tank
- 2.13 Nano Exhibits
- 2.14 Newton Chairs
- 3 Da Vinci Science City
- 4 Board of trustees
- 5 References
- 6 External links
What is known commonly today as the Da Vinci Science Center has inspired enthusiasm for science and technology's ExSCIting Possibilities since 1992. Its earliest incarnation was as the Science Model Area Resource Team (SMART) Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Its primary purpose was originally to host interactive JASON Project broadcasts for students featuring Robert Ballard, Ph.D., the oceanographer who discovered the wreckage of the RMS Titanic.
While the organization would host JASON Project through the spring of 1998, the SMART Center began developing additional hands-on science experiences for students in grades K-8 and their teachers with support from an anonymous benefactor. The SMART Center evolved quickly into the Discovery Center of Science and Technology and began offering public science experiences.
When the Discovery Center separated from Lehigh University in 1999, it was a small, grass-roots organization that served school field trips for grades K-8 primarily and had limited exhibit and program engagement. A 2003 merger with the former Leonardo da Vinci's Horse, Inc. (LDVHI) bolstered the organization's strength, gave it a new namesake, and added an emphasis of connecting science and technology to the arts and other disciplines.
After closing its operations in a former Bethlehem Steel Corporation building in June 2005, the center moved to a custom-built exhibit building on land its leases from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The expanded and modernized visitor experience allowed for a deeper emphasis on public visitation, expanding its reach throughout the greater Lehigh Valley region, and developing programs for other age groups.
Emerging as the Da Vinci Science Center, the organization has adopted a focus on scientific and technical careers. Along with achieving a record number of more than 93,000 total participants, the center established its integrated workforce development initiatives as its signature experiences during the 2012 fiscal year. These initiatives integrate a limited-engagement Da Vinci Science Center exhibit experience with community programming that highlights industry workforce development needs and opportunities.
The Science Center's active, hands-on exhibits make science fun, interesting, and exciting for kids. Exhibits include:
Engineers on a Roll
A combined engineering lab, playscape, and climbing space that offers students active fun while they explore math and engineering. Engineers On a Roll's colorful balls and long tracks that dip and curve encourage kids to predict, direct, sort, and experiment while the balls remain in constant motion
PPL Electric Utilities Energy Zone
Ignite excitement about electrical energy in the PPL Energy Zone. Dance, spin, and get hands-on with standards-based concepts of circuits, voltage, resistance, and power generation. Explore the Energy Dance Floor, Jacob's Ladder, Circuit Blocks, Finger Tingler, and Hand Crank Generators. 
One of the Da Vinci Science Center's most popular exhibits, visitors learn how to hone observation skills using senses other than vision as they crawl through a 72-foot-long tunnel in complete darkness.
Students take a hands-on approach to learning about forces, motion, and simple machines. Try a giant lever, feel the difference a pulley makes, use the superpowers of hydraulics to Lift 1000 Pounds, take a roll on a Newton Chair, and discover the forces that help planes fly. 
Forces of Nature
Experience hurricanes, earthquakes, and the properties of water; and learn the factors that contribute to different types of weather. Learn how to read real weather data and then "Be on TV" as a forecaster. This exhibit is supported by WFMZ 69 News.
Here visitors learn the basics behind animation – how still frame images are compiled together to create a continuous video. They get the opportunity to make their own stop-motion film by moving objects around while a computer captures photos of each scene and compiles them into a final product.
Built Like a Mack Truck
This video-game like exhibit has visitors develop virtual green trucks that are fuel-efficient and don't produce excessive waste. During the design process, they select elements like tire tread, horsepower and fuel source, which ultimately impact how the simulation performs while maneuvering through virtual obstacles.
Deer Park Water Table
The Deer Park Water Table is designed specifically for preschool-aged children and sits less than four feet above the ground. The exhibit features movable parts that visitors can position to change the flow of water. Visitors learn about water use, conservation, and the importance of healthy hydration.
Inside this attraction, guests experience what it would be like to be inside a Category 1 hurricane as the wind races past them at speeds of up to 78 miles per hour.
This exhibit lets young children try their hand at designing a car from plastic parts. The kids get to add hoses to the engine, details to the tires, and, after everything looks right, they can sit inside of their creation.
KEVA Build It Up
Here visitors build their own structures out of KEVA planks. These planks, which look like elongated Jenga blocks, allow children to test their design skills along with their problem-solving skills. The center views this attraction as one that highlights the interplay between art, math and design.
The Marine Tank is a 560-gallon tank, lit by LED lights that gives visitors a chance to watch a host of different sea creatures. For example, they can view horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs and spider crabs in a simulated natural environment. This allows visitors to learn more about these animals behaviors and their importance in the global ecosystem.
Nanotechnology refers to studying objects that are only a few atoms wide. At the center's Nano Exhibits, visitors learn the basic behind this field and get a glimpse at how it is used in our modern world. Visitors also get to apply what they learn themselves, building large replicas of carbon nanotubes and a feature the center calls "Balance Our Nano Future".
Newton's popular Second Law of Motion is expressed as f = ma, or force equal mass times acceleration. That's what visitors experience here. The Newton Chairs are just chairs that roll back when visitors push each other. The simple design illustrates Newton's law – if two visitors apply the same force to each other (push each other), then the difference in their mass will create a proportional difference in their acceleration. In other words, if child does this with their parent, the child will travel back much faster because the same force input is acting against a smaller mass.
Da Vinci Science City
In September, 2016, the Da Vinci Science Center and the city of Easton, Pennsylvania signed a one-year memorandum of understanding to explore the possibility of opening up a $130 million space on the city's waterfront area. The construction for this project would take place on the properties along South Third Street and Larry Holmes Drive. This would require the purchase and removal of a Day's Inn currently on the premises. Da Vinci Science City would feature traveling exhibit galleries shared with the main Allentown location, and would additionally host an aquarium restaurant, large screen theater, and event center.
Da Vinci Science City is an idea that expands on the original Da Vinci Science Center by offering more interaction with educational programs in STEM subjects. If approved, 25% of the funding (roughly $30 million) for this project will come from the city of Easton, with additional funding from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Easton officials admit the development is still in its early stages, but talk highly of the possible beneficial impacts the Science City would bring to the region.
Board of trustees
The role of the board of trustees is to oversee the actions taken by the Da Vinci Science Center to ensure that they are inline with the center's mission and funded appropriately. This is also the group responsible for electing the chief executive officer, who at this time is Lin Erickson. The board consists of 30 members who meet quarterly to fulfill their roles.
Erickson is currently serving as chief executive officer for the second time, after being rehired for the position in 2013. Prior to that, she had served from 1997 to 2005. In 2005, she moved with her husband to Ohio, but returned to Pennsylvania and the Da Vinci Science Center in March 2013. During her time in Ohio, Erickson worked for both the Air Force Museum Foundation and Wittenberg University. While she was gone, her position was filled by Troy A. Thrash. In 2013, Erickson returned to her position with unanimous support from the board of trustees, who reviewed almost 175 candidates for the spot. At this point, Trash moved to become the president and CEO of the Air Zoo museum in Portage, Michigan, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
The board of trustees also includes three committees – the executive committee, the audit finance committee and the committee on trustees. These committees consist of board members and meet throughout the year as well.
- "DSC Facts – Da Vinci Science Center". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "DSC Facts". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Engineers on a Roll". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "PPL Electric Utilities Energy Zone". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Tunnel Experience". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Physics Playground". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Animation Station". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Built Like a Mack Truck". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Deer Park Water Table". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Hurricane Simulator". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Invent-a-Car". Da Vinci Science Center. Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "KEVA Build It Up!". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
- "Marine Tank". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
- "Nano Exhibits". Da VInci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
- "Newton Chairs". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
- "Board of Trustees". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
- "Lin Erickson". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
- Falsone, Nick (2013-03-18). "Lin Erickson returning as executive director of Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown". Lehigh Valley Live. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
- Official website
- Da Vinci Science Center on Twitter
- Historical and Notable Sites in Allentown, Pennsylvania