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SCI Blog

At the Science Center of Iowa, our goal is to be a quality community resource for informal science learning where children, families, school groups and individuals of all ages come to explore science and technology.

To continue the learning outside our building, we bring you the SCI blog! Our knowledgeable staff, along with special guests and local scientists, will give you a behind-the-scenes look at SCI activities, in-depth information about science events and STEM connections in the Des Moines area.

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  • "Paint" your own Lightsaber

    May the Fourth be with you!

    What do you think this is a picture of? It could be a light painting created by Luke Skywalker, Yoda and Mace Windu.

    "Light paintings" can be made with an object that emits light - such as a lightsaber, sparkler or flashlight - and the long-exposure setting on a camera.

    Long exposure photography refers to taking a picture with the camera's shutter remaining open for a longer time letting more light in. This leads to a "light trace" of the illuminated object as it moves around. The slower the shutter speed, the more time you have to paint with your light-brush.

    If you have a handheld camera, you can adjust the shutter speed in the settings. If you are taking pictures with a mobile device, there are many apps that you can use. Slow Camera is a free iOS app that offers slow shutter control. Android apps, such as Camera FV-5 Lite, allow you to control various camera settings, including shutter speed.

    If these three Jedi were swinging their sabers through the air while the camera's shutter was kept open, the light coming from them would act like a paintbrush.

    What kind of art can you make with light? Experiment with different colors of light and length of exposure.

    (Bonus points if you know which colors were painted by which Jedi!)

  • Our Evolving Situation

    SCI remains temporarily closed as we navigate the evolving situation caused by COVID-10. Going forward, we will continue to make decisions based on recommendations of public health officials. 

    Just as you have been adjusting to working and schooling from home, we have been adapting to bringing our experiences to you digitally. View our virtual learning resources and at-home activities and learn how to "Go Beyond with SCI" at www.sciowa.org/athome.

    As a nonprofit organization that relies on visitors coming through our doors, we need your support now more than ever. Please consider a donation to support our mission and ongoing STEM activities.

    We will continue to adapt and innovate as we navigate these uncertain times together. Thank you for your unwavering support!