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  • How we're handling COVID-19

    To our SCI community,

    At the Science Center of Iowa, we have a set of core values that guide the way we make decisions and how we serve you. One of those values is SAFETY. With that in mind, we are actively monitoring developments related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and taking steps to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our visitors, volunteers and staff. We are following the guidelines from the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health and monitoring the situation closely.

    SCI remains a safe place to visit. We will be open normal operating hours, and during spring break, we also will be open on Mondays (March 16 and 23).

    Here are some of the measures we’re taking to ensure the well-being of all who walk through our doors:

    • Increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting across the building, especially hands-on exhibits and frequently touched areas.
    • Ensuring soap and hand sanitizing dispensers are refilled regularly. (If you notice that a soap or hand sanitizer dispenser is empty, please notify a staff member!)
    • Encouraging all staff to practice healthy habits and asking any staff who aren’t feeling well to stay home.

    We also are asking visitors to take preventative measures, as you would in other public spaces, like your workplace or school:

    • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and follow other Everyday Preventative Actions recommended by the CDC.
    • Stay home if you are sick, feel unwell or have any cold symptoms.

    In situations like this, accurate information is crucial. If you would like to learn more about the coronavirus and how to stay safe, SCI has a few options:

    • Exhibit content – We have installed a new four-panel mini exhibit where you can learn what a virus is, how it spreads, what’s special about COVID-19 and why it’s important for scientists in different countries to share information. This is located in a free area of the building near the restrooms east of the lobby.
    • Programming – Our "Meet Stuffee" program has been adapted as "Meet Stuffee: Germs Edition," which highlights the difference between viruses and bacteria. Our science learning team also has developed new cart demonstrations to highlight the importance of sanitation and share information about how viruses grow and spread. Cart demonstrations pop up throughout the day, and you can check our website for upcoming presentations of "Meet Stuffee: Germs Edition."

    We will continue to monitor the situation closely and share updates. For any other questions or concerns related to your SCI visit, please contact me

    Thank you for your support!

    Curt Simmons
    President and CEO

  • Exhibit features 350,000 LEGO bricks

    From the Great Pyramids to Cinderella's Castle, our Brick by Brick exhibit houses an impressive set of structures built entirely from LEGO® bricks.

    In total, there are more than 350,000 bricks on display - plus plenty to build with, too!

    The builds

    All of the structures in the exhibit (minus the SCI build) were created by Adam Reed Tucker, a Chicago native and one of only 14 LEGO® Certified Professionals in the world.

    Burj Khalifa

    Burj Khalifa, in downtown Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is the tallest building in the world. It is 163 stories tall and contains more than 24,000 windows, as well as the longest elevator in the world. It was built by bundling structures of smaller size for strength, and a Y-shaped buttressed core prevents twisting in the wind.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 12 feet tall
    • Design time: 45 hours
    • Build time: 60 hours
    • Number of bricks: 16,500
    • This is the only model where Adam has used a mathematical expression to visualize the design.

    Cinderella’s Castle

    This theme park icon was designed by Herbert Dickens Ryman, a Disney artist and close friend of Walt Disney. Forced perspective makes this structure appear larger than it is. The windows and bricks on upper levels are made smaller to seem farther away. Steel framed construction and a 10-inch-thick concrete wall lie beneath the ornate façade and allow this building in central Florida, where hurricanes are a threat, to withstand 100 mile-per-hour wind gusts.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 5 feet tall
    • Design time: 145
    • Build time: 230
    • Number of bricks: 36,000
    • Almost every LEGO building technique in Adam’s repertoire has been used in the castle.

    Fallingwater

    This National Historic Landmark, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is considered the “best all-time work of American architec­ture” by the American Institute of Architects. Completed in 1938, it was built as a private Pennsylvania residence designed to incorporate and complement the surrounding woodland and waterfall. The home is now open to public tours.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 5 feet long
    • Design time: 170 hours
    • Build time: 130 hours
    • Number of bricks: 21,100
    • With a set of careful manipulations, this model comes apart like a puzzle.

    The Gateway Arch

    The Arch is the nation’s tallest memorial and serves as a “Gateway to the West.” It is a catenary curve, with its width and height are equal at 630 feet. Architect Eero Saarinen was selected for the project through an anonymous design competition, and the monument was completed in 1965. Visitors can travel to the top of the Arch via an elevator system.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 8 feet tall
    • Design time: 25 hours
    • Build time: 30 hours
    • Number of bricks: 7,500
    • Not unlike the real Arch, the model is self-supporting, even without the top sections in place.

    Golden Gate Bridge

    When the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, it was then the longest suspension bridge in the world at 4,200 feet. Built to withstand both wind and earthquakes, each of the bridge’s cables comprises hundreds of wires, anchored for support. A deck truss prevents too much sway, but cables can still move up to 27 feet to accommodate winds.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 60 feet long
    • Design time: 215 hours
    • Build time: 260 hours
    • Number of bricks: 64,500

    Great Pyramid of Giza

    The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and most intact Wonder of the Ancient World: it’s the largest in a compound of buildings paying homage to Pharaoh Khufu and his family. It is believed to have been completed in 2560 B.C., and it remained the tallest human-built structure for nearly 4,000 years, made up of 2.3 million giant bricks in all. How these monumental structures were built remains up for study and debate.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • Almost 12 feet long
    • Design time: 50 hours
    • Build time: 45 hours
    • Number of bricks: 24,000
    • The pieces used in the corners are very rare, only found in a few sets that are no longer produced.

    Hoover Dam

    One of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders, the Hoover Dam was completed in 1935 as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. The dam’s goals were to tame the Colorado River, distribute water to the parched Southwest and provide hydroelectric power. It was constructed as an arch-gravity dam. Arch dams are best for narrow passages between steep rock walls; gravity dams’ massive weight hold back water.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 5 feet long
    • Design time: 215 hours
    • Build time: 160 hours
    • Number of bricks: 42,800
    • Adam experimented with more than six ways to construct this model.

    One World Trade Center

    This building opened on November 3, 2014, as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It extends 1,776 feet into the air, a tribute to the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. Through its design, architects and engineers wanted to pay homage to the original World Trade Center as well as convey resilience and inspire hope.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 10 feet tall
    • Design time: 15 hours
    • Build time: 45 hours
    • Number of bricks: 25,500
    • This model is completely hollow, with no internal structure or interior supports.

    Ping An Finance Center

    Opened in Shenzen, China in 2016, this new super-skyscraper is the country’s tallest at 1,965 feet. The build­ing’s completion marks Shenzen’s rise in population: In 35 years, the city’s population has grown from 300,000 to 10 million. Its sleek stainless steel façade will resist salt corrosion, and the columns provide both visual interest and resistance to wind.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • 6 feet tall
    • Design time: 25 hours
    • Build time: 60 hours
    • Number of bricks: 20,250
    • To simulate the rebars (steel rods in concrete), Adam used silver antennas from Star Wars

    Roman Colosseum

    The Colosseum was built in 70-80 A.D. in honor of Titus, Emperor Vespasian’s son. It is the largest amphitheater ever erect­ed, a gift to Roman citizens who would gather in its walls to watch gladiator fights, wild animal shows, re-enactments of battles and more. It could seat an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 patrons, but could empty in minutes because of its ingenious system of 80 entrance/exit arches, corridors and staircases.

    Fun facts about the LEGO version:

    • More than 6 feet long
    • Design time: 120 hours
    • Build time: 75 hours
    • Number of bricks: 22,500
    • To get the oval shape just right, the structure was redesigned over a dozen times.

    BONUS: Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater

    The Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater opened in Downtown Des Moines in 2005. The scale replica of is made from 75,000 LEGOs, an example of ingenuity and engineering in action! The builders examined blueprints and used computer aided drafting to sketch the building before they even started constructing it.

    • Designed and built by local LEGO enthusiast Chris Hettinger and the Iowa LEGO Users Group in 2013
    • 8 feet long
    • Number of bricks: 75,000 bricks

    Plan your visit

    In addition to these spectacular LEGO®-built structures, the Brick by Brick exhibit features hands-on building challenges to help you discover your inner builder. Plan your visit today