A Night at the Museum: Science Comes Alive at NSM Event

A Night at the Museum: Science Comes Alive at NSM Event
Culture and Science Series Offers Live Demonstrations by UH Professors at Sugar Land Museum

Steven Pennings
Biology professor Steven Pennings will offer one of seven interactive demos for guests at the next Culture and Science event. (Credit: Chris Watts)
Explosive chemistry, walking with dinosaurs and living in space are among a menu of entertaining scientific demonstrations to be presented by University of Houston (UH) professors at the next Culture and Science event Saturday, Oct. 11 from 6-9 p.m., at the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land. Tickets to “A Night at the Museum: Making Science Come Alive!” are $45 per person and include museum admission, multiple food stations and two wine tickets.

Much like a science fair for adults, the event will feature seven interactive exhibits from physicists, biologists, chemists, mathematicians, geologists and computer scientists. With four show times for each presentation, guests will have the opportunity to select demonstrations of interest. Hosted by the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the event provides a forum for discussion and exploration of how science applies to cultural interests.

The demos include:

Chemistry: Not Just for Nerds!
While introductory chemistry is usually presented as a very dry science, with more calculations than fun, chemistry professor Simon Bott will show that it’s really a science of light, colors, energy and utility. Guests will not only observe, but also participate in explosive chemistry experiments illustrating how to introduce fundamental concepts through inquiry, while stretching the limits of the fire alarm system at the museum.

Shun Stains Away: The Solution for Stain-Free Carpet, Clothes and Furniture
Physics professor Seamus Curran will demonstrate the uses for Shun Coating, a line of sealants and coatings he developed to provide protection from water damage, corrosion and stains. The coating is manufactured by C-Voltaics, a nanotech manufacturing company launched by Curran, and can be used on fabrics, glass, carpets, home interiors and wood.

Animals without Backbones Rule the World
While nature programs usually pay more attention to birds, mammals and fish, it’s the animals without backbones – the invertebrates – that do most of the hard work in nature. Biology professor Steven Pennings will present live examples of several charismatic invertebrates that are important in the ecology of coastal habitats. Guests will be given the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of live invertebrates while Pennings explains their ecological roles.

Computer Gaming in Reality
Led by computer science professor Chang Yun, who is co-founder of the UH Gaming Program, three students from the Interactive Game Design Program will share the computer games they developed. One game is set in a futuristic world, taking players through a war between machines and mammals. The other is designed to help autistic children with elementary motor skills training, allowing them to improve motor function. Attendees can test drive either of these two student-created computer games.

Walking with T-Rex
Geology professor Peter Copeland will walk attendees through the paleontology exhibit, explaining what we know about dinosaurs and how we know it. He will discuss the current hypotheses for one of the most important events concerning life on Earth – the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago.

Now You See It. Now You Don’t: The Mathematics of Perception
Math professors Krešimir Josi? and Zachary Kilpatrick will offer a glimpse into perceptual rivalry, which occurs when perception alternates between multiple interpretations of a scene. They will discuss how mathematics explains how and why this occurs, detailing their research into understanding how humans interpret complex visual images.

Living in Space
Physics professor Lawrence Pinsky will illuminate conditions in space while his audience gazes at videos in the planetarium. He will offer two topics – radiation hazards in space and collaborative research to simulate the conditions during the big bang.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://nsm.uh.edu/news-events/culture-science/ or contact Hillary Norwood at nsmrsvp@nsm.uh.edu or 713-743-2611.

- Lisa Merkl, University Media Relations