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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  • Make Spooky Science Part of Your Halloween Party

    Caramel apples? Check. Steaming cider? Check. The ultimate Halloween costume? Check.

    But something is missing — science! Here are some ways you can add fizzing Jack-o-Lanterns, friendly STEM competition and apple architecture to your Halloween party.

    Fizzing Jack-o-Lanterns — Whether your pumpkin features a devious grin or a warm smile, take your Jack-o-Lantern to a new level with the classic baking-soda-and-vinegar reaction. After you carve your masterpiece, add a dash of baking soda, a drop of food coloring, pour in the vinegar and watch your Halloween friend fizz!

    LEGO STEM Challenge — Trade apple-bobbing for a new kind of competition, Halloween LEGO style! Give each team an array of LEGOs, and challenge them to build their favorite Halloween characters — ghosts, ghouls, monsters and more.

    Apple Architecture — Grab a big bowl of apple bites and toothpicks, and challenge your guests to build a sweet fall structure! Reward your architects with the ingredients for caramel apple bites, and let them create customized treats.

    Candy Corn Catapults — Gather a few simple ingredients for this Halloween physics challenge. Have your party guests team up to build catapults with Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, spoons and tape. Then, see who can launch candy corn the farthest!

    Balloon Ghost — Grab a black permanent marker and draw a pair of circle eyes on a white balloon. Pour baking soda and vinegar in an empty water bottle, secure the balloon on the opening and watch as a spooky ghost appears!

  • Pajama Party Makes Science Fun for Girls

    Nearly 200 girls participated in a late-night adventure at SCI on September 20. Though there were no pillows and it wasn’t quite a sleepover, they did don their PJs for a chance to participate in SCI’s 2nd Annual Girls in Science Pajama Party.

    The girls, ages 8 to 15, arrived at SCI eager for the chance to learn how science could be a part of their future. Another important goal for SCI was to give these girls a community to support and encourage their interest in science.

    Many parents hoped that the event would help spark an interest in science for their daughters. One said, “I hope she has fun, makes connections, is encouraged by likeminded peers and is more excited about figuring things out and making a career of it!”

    To get the creativity flowing, the night began with some dancing and getting-to-know-you games. Then, the party moved to the six-story IMAX theater for a screening of Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, which features Dr. Patricia Wright, an accomplished primatologist, anthropologist and conservationist… and a great female role model.

    According to post-event surveys, though, the best part of the night was the workshops, when the girls got to test and experiment in small group challenges.

    In the “Parachute Plunge” workshop, groups were challenged to design a parachute that would slow an object’s fall from SCI’s second floor. The girls were encouraged to test their hypotheses and experiment with different designs. Then, they went to the test site and let their parachutes fly!

    In the “Stop-Motion Dinos” workshop, groups used plastic dinosaur models and environmental props to create a short stop-motion animation film. Once each group developed a plot and storyline, they used an iPad app to direct and photograph their story.

    Finally, the Pajama Party concluded with the chance to wish upon a star… a star that they viewed through high-powered telescopes! It was the first experience with a telescope for many of the girls, and many were surprised at the detail of celestial objects like the moon and Mars.

    At the end of the night, 89 percent of the girls who completed a survey said they either had “Fun” or “So Much Fun!,” 32 percent said they “Learned a Lot” and 59 percent said they were “More Excited” about science as a result of the Pajama Party.

    Thanks to the support of Presenting Sponsor DuPont Pioneer, the Girls in Science Pajama Party was made available to girls for a cost of just $5 per person.Learn more about SCI’s Girls in Science Initiative at www.sciowa.org/girlsinscience.