2 February 2015

Science is a verb at the MagLab’s 20th Open House

Explore, watch, learn, play and be astounded at the lab's 20th Open House on Feb. 21, 2015.

Open House poster.

An Open House visitor snaps a shot of a flower frozen by liquid nitrogen.

Frozen flower.

"Einstein's Ice Cream," prepared using liquid nitrogen, is always a big Open House hit.

Making ice cream.

Kids come face to face with turtles, snakes, starfish and other critters.

Kids meet turtles.

Kids get to learn hands-on about resonance and many other science concepts.

Girl learning about resonance.

Come watch things levitate, slither, vibrate, light up and fly through the air at Open House.

Girl learning about resonance.

By KATHLEEN LAUFENBERG

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Where can you chat with a Disney Imagineer, sample Einstein’s ice cream, launch a potato and shatter a cryogenically frozen rose?

At the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, of course, during its 20th Open House. Come join the celebration on Saturday, Feb. 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 1800 East Paul Dirac Drive, in Innovation Park near Florida State University. The event is free, but please bring a canned good to donate to the Second Harvest of the Big Bend. Parking is free, too, and available around the lab and throughout Innovation Park, where other science labs are also hosting Open Houses during the same time.

This year's MagLab Open House may just be the best one yet — and that's saying a lot. The lab's first such celebration was filled with fanfare and featured a host of political dignitaries, such as then- Vice President Al Gore and U.S. Senator Bob Graham (also a former Florida governor). You can watch a clip of that first Open House on the MagLab's new-and-improved website.

Like the lab, Open House has grown substantially in the two decades since its inception. The first annual Open House began, not surprisingly, with only a handful of demonstrations and exhibits. This year, the lab will have more than 75 demonstrations going on simultaneously. When you arrive, grab a free map that shows what’s happening and where, then pick and choose which demonstrations to see. If you work up an appetite, head for the food trucks and hotdog, hamburger and veggie burger grill set up in the Magnet Lab’s front parking lot.

WHEN: Feb. 21, 2015, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WHERE: MagLab, 1800 East Paul Dirac Drive, in Innovation Park
COST: Free, but please bring a canned good to donate

Visitors can also try out several hands-on science exhibits that were just recently conceived and built by Florida State University students. These prototypes are the result of a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the MagLab and FSU's Department of Interior Design. The joint venture culminated in the construction of six exhibits, several of which visitors are invited to try out. They include:

  • An electric guitar that you can play, with sound-activated lights that explain aspects of electric currents and magnetic fields. (The guitar display was inspired by an animation available on our site.
  • Jars of black, goo-like ferrofluid (liquids that become magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field) that you can manipulate to create temporary sculptures. This exhibit demonstrates a magnet's effect on materials.
  • Mini wind tunnels that uses air as a metaphor to demonstrate magnetic field strength.

On hand to answer questions about the student-made models will be an expert exhibit designer from Disney, Mk Haley. She's also one of the teachers who worked with the students, teaching them the ins-and-outs of crafting hands-on, museum-style exhibits. If you'd like to talk with students who worked on the prototypes, several with be available.

All of the lab's most popular demonstrations will be back, too. You'll have the chance to experience the power of a magnetic field by watching a quarter squeezed into the size of a dime literally in the blink of an eye. You can also make a comet; launch a giant smoke ring; calculate the speed of a potato shot from a potato cannon; See 3D printers in action and ask questions; watch items levitate and much, much more.

You can easily visit our neighbors' Open Houses, too. A quick stroll from the MagLab, at 2000 Levy Ave., two science hubs — the Center for Advanced Power Systems and the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies — will welcome visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You will be able to build a mini-motor and a mini-magnet, explore the power of wind and much more.

Across the street — at 2003 Levy Ave. — there will be lots going on at the Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion which houses several giant, powerful wind tunnels.

Come explore with us at Open House!


The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory is the world’s largest and highest-powered magnet facility. Located at Florida State University, the University of Florida and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the interdisciplinary National MagLab hosts scientists from around the world to perform basic research in high magnetic fields, advancing our understanding of materials, energy and life. The lab is funded by the National Science Foundation (DMR-1157490) and the state of Florida. For more information, visit us online at nationalmaglab.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest at NationalMagLab.