Da Vinci Science Center

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Da Vinci Science Center
Da Vinci Science Center is located in Pennsylvania
Da Vinci Science Center
Location within Pennsylvania
Established 1992 (1992)
Location Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States
Type Science, Technology, Careers, Children
Accreditation ASTC, NSF
Visitors 125,000 participants annually
Director Lin Erickson
Website DaVinci Science Center
Exterior shot of the Da Vinci 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",[1] as its mission states, since 1992. Its slogan is Open for ExSCIting Possibilities.[2]

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, PA, and 90 miles west of New York, NY. Its primary service area in eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey is home to 4.9 million people.[2]


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 Bob 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, Pa. 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.[2]

Summary of Current Exhibits[edit]

The Da Vinci Science Center houses over two dozen hands-on activities that allow visitors to interact with various scientific fields, ranging from seismology to nano technology to animation. All of the exhibits aim to help children view science as playful and interesting.

Animal Grossology[3][edit]

Inspired by a children's book series, this exhibit explores all the qualities of animals that people tend to find disgusting. Visitors who walk through this exhibit learn about the various means of childbirth throughout the animal kingdom and the variety of nutrient sources different species rely on, from cows chewing cud to mosquitoes sucking blood. There's also a section devoted to showing what happens to food after digestion, it compares the various feces throughout the animal kingdom.

Animation Station[4][edit]

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.

Art Exhibits[5][edit]

In honor of the building's namesake, the Center displays art in conjugation with science. The work on display often comes from local artists, such as murals made by students at The Baum School of Art, a local art school, and The Fossil Wall from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Built Like a Mack Truck[6][edit]

This video-game like exhibit has visitors develop virtual green automobiles 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[7][edit]

The Deer Park Water Table is targeted toward preschool children. The four-foot high table is a practical demonstration of factors that affect the flow of water, teaching the children who play with it about water conservation and recycling.

Dino Dig[8][edit]

Visitors get to practice being an archaeologist at this miniature excavation site. At this popular stop, guests search for simulated dinosaur skulls, teeth and claws.

Honeybee Hive[9][edit]

The hive is a seasonal attraction, featuring live honeybees during the Spring and Summer. By observing them, visitors learn about life cycles of the bees and the distribution of work that allows the colony to thrive.

Hurricane Simulator[10][edit]

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.

Innovation Square[11][edit]

The Innovation Square is one of the central exhibits at the Da Vinci Science Center. The goal is to highlight and explore inventions from the local community, like the Ekso exoskeleton used to help paraplegics at the Good Shepherd Rehab Hospital in Allentown, PA. The features are periodically swapped out to make sure that the innovations shown are current.


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[13][edit]

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.

Marine Tank[14][edit]

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.

Nano Exhibits[15][edit]

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 its 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 Chairs[16][edit]

Netwon's popular Second Law of Motion is expressed as f = ma, or force equal mass times acceleration. That's what visitors experience here. The Netwon Chairs are just chairs that roll back when visitors push each other. The simple design illustrates Netwon'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.

Board of Trustees[edit]

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.[17]

Lin Erickson[18][edit]

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 1997-2005. 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.[19] 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.

Other Board Members[edit]

  • Vincent Sorgi - Chairman
  • James E. McLean, WMS - Vice Chairman
  • Stephen K. Breininger - Treasurer
  • Laurie Ryan - Secretary
  • James Airolid, M.D., MPH - Trustee
  • Gregory S. Altonen - Trustee
  • Ann D. Bieber, Ed.D. - Trustee
  • Rex Boland - Trustee
  • Dick Bus - Trustee
  • Greg L. Butz - Trustee
  • Brian R. Eckert - Trustee
  • Hon. Jane R. Ervin - Trustee
  • Kevin B. Fogash, Ph.D. - Trustee
  • W. Beall Fowler, Ph.D. - Trustee
  • Jack Gross, JD - Trustee
  • Debra H. Lamb - Trustee
  • Lorretta E. Lashley - Trustee
  • J. Robert Lovett, Ph.D. - Trustee
  • C. Russell Mayo, Ed.D. - Trustee
  • Elizabeth M. Meade, Ph.D. - Trustee
  • Richard Milker - Trustee
  • Peter Rittenhouse - Trustee
  • Edith Ritter - Trustee
  • Joseph J. Ro, Ed.D - Trustee
  • Michael P. Salute - Trustee
  • Frank K. Schweighardt, Ph.D. - Trustee
  • Richard T. Sniscak - Trustee
  • Joseph A. Tracy, M.S. - Trustee
  • George P. White, Ed.D. - Trustee


The Board of Trustees also includes three committees - the Executive Committee, the Audit Finance Committee and the Committee on Trustees.[17] These committees consist of board members and meet throughout the year as well.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "DSC Facts - Da Vinci Science Center". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  2. ^ a b c "DSC Facts". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  3. ^ "Animal Grossology". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  4. ^ "Animation Station". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  5. ^ "Art Exhibits". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  6. ^ "Built Like a Mack Truck". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  7. ^ "Deer Park Water Table". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  8. ^ "Dino Dig". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  9. ^ "Honeybee Hive". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  10. ^ "Hurricane Simulator". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  11. ^ "Innovation Square". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  12. ^ "Invent-a-Car". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  13. ^ "KEVA Build It Up!". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-19. 
  14. ^ "Marine Tank". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-19. 
  15. ^ "Nano Exhibits". Da VInci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-19. 
  16. ^ "Newton Chairs". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-19. 
  17. ^ a b "Board of Trustees". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-20. 
  18. ^ "Lin Erickson". Da Vinci Science Center. Retrieved 2016-03-20. 
  19. ^ 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. 

Coordinates: 40°35′02″N 75°31′19″W / 40.58394°N 75.52207°W / 40.58394; -75.52207