13 February 2009

See science in action at Mag Lab's Open House

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Get a charge out of science and help fight hunger at the Mag Lab's 14th annual Open House, to be held Saturday, Feb. 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the lab's Innovation Park headquarters, 1800 E. Paul Dirac Drive.

As always, Open House is free and features crowd favorites such as the Magnetic Shrinking Machine, the Potato Cannon and the Penny Press. But this year, a canned good or other non-perishable food item is requested as the unofficial price of admission. Donated food will benefit America's Second Harvest Food Bank of the Big Bend to help feed the growing number of area residents in need.

"Think of what this food drive could do for the community if even half of our visitors donate a can," said Susan Ray, director of public affairs at the lab. "With crowds as large as 4,000 people, we could put quite a dent in the need."

Also new this year is the Kids Zone, for children in pre-K through eighth grade. Inside, visitors will find lots of opportunities for hands-on experimentation. Planned activities include:

  • A bubble wall that teaches about surface tension, hydrogen bonds and polar molecules
  • A demonstration of pressure that uses a bell jar, a vacuum pump and Peeps – yes, Peeps – to make its impressive point
  • A magnet that falls in slow motion, illustrating eddy currents
  • Special glasses that show fingerprints of light and reveal the visible spectrum
  • Magnet toys that introduce preschoolers to magnetism by showing how opposites attract
  • Open House includes many other hands-on demonstrations as well as self-guided tours at both the main lab and the Applied Superconductivity Center across the street (that's where you'll find the ever-popular Magnetic Levitation Train); activities from Community Classroom Consortium Partners such as the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science and the Tallahassee Museums; games; giveaways; and the chance to interact with scientists and other magnet lab staff.

Open House also is held in conjunction with the Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) and the Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability (IESES). Just a short walk away from the lab at 2000 Levy Ave., CAPS and IESES will offer visitors an opportunity to race hydrogen-powered model cars; build a motor; and learn how wind turbines, superconductors and traditional power systems operate. In addition, there is plenty of parking for all events at the CAPS-IESES building.

Visit www.magnet.fsu.edu/openhouse and check out online versions of some of the magnet lab's most popular demonstrations. These online versions are designed to reinforce and expand on what you'll see at Open House. You also can see a slideshow of last year's Open House.

For more information, visit www.magnet.fsu.edu/openhouse or call (850) 644-0311.

Directions to the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory

From Doak Campbell Stadium (intersection of Gaines Street and Lake Bradford Road): Go south on Lake Bradford Road to the third traffic light. Turn right on Levy Avenue and proceed straight until the road ends at East Paul Dirac Drive. The laboratory will be directly ahead. Parking will be on the left on Levy Avenue. Handicapped parking is available at the front of the building.

From Interstate 10 and Route 263 (Capital Circle Northwest): Take I-10 to Exit No. 196. Go south on Capital Circle Northwest. Continue through the intersection with Route 20. At the next traffic light, turn left onto Route 371, also known as Orange Avenue. Turn left at Pottsdamer Street and go approximately 1 mile. The magnet lab will be straight ahead when Pottsdamer Street ends at East Paul Dirac Drive.