14 February 2020

Explore the Science of Time at Silver Anniversary Open House

A science fan uses a solar telescope at the MagLab’s 2019 Open House. A science fan uses a solar telescope at the MagLab’s 2019 Open House. Stephen Bilenky

On Feb. 22, the lab opens its doors once again, inviting science lovers of all ages to do hands-on activities related to space, time and all things fun and nerdy.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Whether you travel through spacetime by TARDIS, tesseract, black hole or minivan, be sure to program your vehicle with the following coordinates:

  • Location:
    • Longitude/latitude: 30.424160, -84.321120
    • GPS: 30° 25' 26.976'' N, 84° 19' 16.032'' W
  • Time: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST.

That's where you'll find the annual Open House of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, a free, day-long science extravaganza for kids and adults of all ages.

If you think you already checked this amazing event off your Tallahassee bucket list, think again: Every year is a fresh take on science, and this day will offer lots of new demonstrations along the theme of space and time. In addition, this year marks the lab's 25th anniversary, so festivities will be suitably exuberant. Expect everything from a special exhibit by the National Science Foundation, the lab's primary funding agency, to a midday pop-in by no less than the King of Rock & Roll himself.

2020 OPEN HOUSE

When: Saturday, February 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: MagLab, 1800 E. Paul Dirac Drive, Tallahassee (see Google map)
Cost: Free! But please bring a canned good to donate to America’s Second Harvest Food Bank of the Big Bend.

"We have a lot to celebrate after our first quarter century," said Kristin Roberts, director of public affairs for the MagLab. "Since we first opened in 1994, more than 25,000 scientists have come to Tallahassee to use our magnets; we've racked up 17 world records; churned out more than 9,600 publications; and welcomed more than 116,000 Open House visitors. As far as discoveries in high magnetic fields, the lab is really the center of the universe."

In addition to the perennial Open House faves — the potato cannon, quarter shrinker, cryogenically frozen flowers and ice cream — visitors this year will discover new hands-on activities around every corner. Learn how radar measures your speed, why foods go bad and how science can help; and how everything from your body's circadian rhythm to atomic clocks tick. And if you have never square-danced in the shape of a copper atom, this is your chance.

Naturally, all that sprinting, knowledge absorbing and do-si-do-ing works up an appetite. Per the usual, a variety of food trucks will be on hand to nourish your body so you can go back and cram more good stuff into your brain.

The MagLab is located in Tallahassee's Innovation Park at 1800 E. Paul Dirac Drive. Several of the lab's neighbors will also hold open house events in concert with the lab's, including the High-Performance Materials Research Institute, the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, the Florida Center for Reading Research and the Aeropropulsion, Mechatronics & Energy Center. If that sounds like too much ground to cover, a free trolley will be traveling through spacetime throughout the day, allowing visitors to easily stop by multiple labs.

In addition to hundreds of MagLab staffers volunteering at the event, many organizations from across the community will stage demos highlighting their own corners of the science universe, from the Tallahassee Astronomical Society to the Challenger Learning Center.

As always, admission is free to science fans everywhere. However, if the luggage allowance on your spacetime conveyor permits, visitors are encouraged to bring a canned good to donate to the Second Harvest of the Big Bend.

For more details, visit nationalmaglab.org/openhouse

Story by Kristen Coyne


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-1644779) 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.