Posted by: Discovery Science Center Blog | December 20, 2010

140 Gingerbread Houses here through January 2!

Posted by: Discovery Science Center Blog | November 8, 2010

LIVE Question/Answer Sessions with NASA Astronaut Danny Olivas

Tweet @discoverycube to ask questions LIVE!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

DSC, posted with vodpod

Posted by: Discovery Science Center Blog | November 4, 2010

LIVE Astronaut Broadcast MONDAY Nov. 8!

Tune into the Discovery Science Center’s blog MONDAY, November 8, 10:00am-11:00am PST to see NASA  Astronaut  Danny Olivas take your questions LIVE!  Astronaut Olivas  will visit with Future Scientists and  Engineers of America  (FSEA) students from Costa Mesa  Middle School and High School.

You can join in! Ask your questions via twitter  @discoverycube 10:00am-11:00 PST as we take your  questions LIVE!



PERSONAL DATA: Born in North Hollywood, California, 1966, and raised in El Paso, Texas.  Married to the former Marie Schwarzkopf, also from El Paso, Texas.  They have 5 children.  Recreational interests include running, weightlifting, hunting, fishing and surfing.

EDUCATION: Graduate of Burges High School, El Paso, Texas; received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas-El Paso; a masters of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston and a doctorate in mechanical engineering and materials science from Rice University.

AWARDS: Six U.S. Patents; Four NASA Class One Tech Brief Awards; Five JPL-California Institute of Technology Novel Technology Recognitions; The University of Texas-El Paso Distinguished Alumnus, HENAAC Most Promising Engineer, McDonald’s Hispanos Triunfadores Life Time Achievement Award, NASA ASEE Summer Faculty Fellowship Award, Dow Life Saving Award.

EXPERIENCE: After graduating with his undergraduate degree, Olivas worked for the Dow Chemical Company as a mechanical/materials engineer responsible for performing equipment stress/failure analysis for the operating facilities.  Upon completing his master’s degree, Olivas pursued his doctorate while supporting engine coating evaluations for C-5 maintenance operations at Kelly Air Force Base.  He also supported the Crew and Thermal Systems Directorate at NASA Johnson Space Center, evaluating materials for application to the next generation space suits.

Upon completing his doctorate, he received a senior research engineer position at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and worked in the development of tools and methodologies for nondestructively evaluating microelectronics and structural materials subjected to space environments.  He was promoted to Program Manager of the JPL Advanced Interconnect and Manufacturing Assurance Program, aimed at evaluating the reliability and susceptibility of state-of-the-art microelectronics for use in future NASA projects.  Throughout his career, he has authored and presented numerous papers at technical conferences and in scientific journals.

NASA EXPERIENCE: NASA selected Olivas in 1998.  Astronaut Training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training and ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques.  From 1999 to 2002, he was assigned technical responsibilities within the Robotics Branch as lead for the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator Robot and the Mobile Transporter.  From 2002 to 2005 he was assigned to the EVA Branch and supported the research effort focused on developing materials, tools and techniques to perform on-orbit shuttle repair.  In 2006, he served as lead of the Hardware Integration Section of the Space Station Branch, responsible for ensuring proper configuration and integration of future station modules and visiting vehicles.  In 2007 he flew on STS-117 logging 336 hours in space including over 14 EVA hours.  In 2008 he was assigned to the Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) Branch that is responsible for all interface with the flight control team at Mission Control in Houston and the on-orbit STS and ISS crews.  In 2009 he served aboard STS-128 and has a cumulative total of over 668 hours in space and over 34 EVA hours.  Olivas retired from NASA on May 25, 2010.

SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-117 Atlantis (June 8-22, 2007) was the 118th Shuttle mission and the 21st mission to visit the International Space Station, delivering the second starboard truss segment, the third set of U.S. solar arrays, batteries and associated equipment.  The mission also entailed the first ever on-orbit EVA repair to the Space Shuttle, Atlantis.  During two spacewalks, Olivas accumulated 14 hours and 13 mins of EVA experience.  The mission also delivered and returned with an expedition crew member.  STS-117 returned to land at Edwards Air Force Base, California, having traveled more than 5.8 million miles in 13-day, 20 hours and 20 minutes.

STS-128 Discovery (August 28 to September 11, 2009) was the 128th Shuttle mission and the 30th mission to the International Space Station.  While at the orbital outpost, the STS-128 crew rotated an expedition crewmember, attached the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), and transferred over 18,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the station.  During three spacewalks,Olivas accumulated 20 hours and 15 mins of EVA experience.  The STS-128 mission was accomplished in 217 orbits of the Earth, traveling over 5.7 million miles in 332 hours and 53 minutes and returned to land at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Posted by: Discovery Science Center Blog | October 26, 2010

Halloween weekend FREEBIES!

Discovery Science Center is offering tons of fun for your Halloween weekend. Saturday through Sunday, October 30-31 enjoy pumpkin decorating, costume parades, and trick-or-treat at your favorite exhibits. All the Halloween fun is included in the price of admission!

Just in at DSC are lots of mini pumpkins for our guests to decorate, grown by our friends at The Pumpkin Factory. You can visit the Pumpkin Factory at the Main Place Mall parking lot just across the street from DSC. Every guest to Discovery Science Center will get a free ride voucher to the Pumpkin Factory in the month of October! That means one free ride on their fun mini tractors, bounce houses, inflatable slides, and more.

This Halloween weekend is the last chance to visit the popular BUG INVASION exhibit! BUG INVASION is only here for the month of October, so don’t miss out! Don’t forget, Dr. Sue’s arthropod and insect zoo and Thor’s creep crawlers will be here this weekend with all their bug friends!

Posted by: Discovery Science Center Blog | October 19, 2010

Bug Invasion…get them while they’re still here (Oct 2-31)

What’s your favorite part of BUG INVASION? The giant bugs, or the real ones?








Posted by: Discovery Science Center Blog | October 18, 2010

Halloween Weekend at Discovery Science Center

Halloween lasts all weekend at Discovery Science Center! Visit us Saturday-Sunday October 30-31 for trick-or-treat at your favorite exhibits, costume parades, pumpkin painting, and live bug shows! Discovery Science Center and The Pumpkin Factory are the places to be for a fun, spooky and safe Halloween weekend for the family!

Halloween Weekend Schedule

Saturday, October 3010:00am – 5:00pm: Ongoing Learning Stations
10:00am – 5:00pm: Trick-or-Treat Stations
11:00am – 11:30am: Water Pollution Show
11:00am – 3:00pm: Rat & Mouse Club of America
11:00am – 4:00pm: Buzzy Bees Activity
12:00pm – 3:00pm: Dr. Sue’s Traveling Insect & Arthropod Zoo
12:00pm – 2:00pm: Thors Creepy Crawlers Show
12:00pm – 3:00pm: Pumpkin Decorating
1:00pm: Grasshopper Anatomy 101
2:00pm: Spider Mash Dance and Costume Parade
2:30pm: “Bee Smart” Storytime
3:00pm – 3:30pm: Water Pollution Show
Sunday, October 3110:00am – 5:00pm: Ongoing Learning Stations
11:00am – 11:30am: Water Pollution Show
11:00am – 3:00pm: Rat & Mouse Club of America
11:00am – 4:00pm: Buzzy Bees Activity
12:00pm – 3:00pm: Dr. Sue’s Traveling Insect & Arthropod Zoo
12:00pm – 2:00pm: Thors Creepy Crawlers Show
12:00pm – 3:00pm: Pumpkin Decorating
1:00pm – 5:00pm: Trick-or-Treat Stations
1:00pm: Worm Anatomy 101
2:00pm: Spider Mash Dance and Costume Parade
2:30pm: “Bee Smart” Storytime
3:00pm – 3:30pm: Water Pollution Show

* Activities and times are subject to change without notice.

Posted by: Discovery Science Center Blog | October 15, 2010

BUG INVASION is here! Get them, before they get you.

Posted by: Discovery Science Center Blog | August 27, 2010

A Look Back at Summer Fun @discoverycube

Posted by: Discovery Science Center Blog | August 12, 2010

Back to School-Back to Science

Back to Fundamentals with Discovery Science Center

Impacting over 270,000 students per year in Southern California, Discovery Science Center is a cornerstone in the educational community, providing resources for children and teachers alike. Some of the opportunities available through an education partnership with the science center include (1) Interactive field trips to the Center, (2) Science to Go programs and assemblies that are grade-level specific, (3) Free monthly professional development classes for teachers, (4) Free education assemblies with accompanying booklet and/or kits that teach our children how important it is to conserve our resources, and (5) After school instruction aligned with the California Science Content Standards.

In fact, all of Discovery Science Center’s programs align with the California Science Content Standards. So how do you qualify for an education partnership with Discovery Science Center? Just ask. The Center offers a new TEN (Teacher Education Network) membership that awards points to individual teachers who participate in the programs. These points qualify the TEN members to win prizes that will be awarded at the Annual Educators’ Evening of Science event, held at Discovery Science Center on Sept 22, 2010 from 4-7 pm. The TEN Grand Prize at this year’s event is a 3-day, 2-night stay at Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, along with tickets to the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center. However, qualifying TEN members must be present to win.

If you are not yet a TEN member, feel free to attend the Annual Educators’ Evening of Science (the event is open to educators, PTA administrators, and school administrators only; no children please). Learn more about what Discovery Science Center has to offer and the Educator’s Evening of Science HERE .

Try This at Home!

An Apple for the Teacher, Parent, and Child

Some seeds are able to float. How does the ability to float help the seed? (Answer: By maintaining the plant’s population, expanding the range of the plant, and relocating the plant if needed). Some entire fruits which carry the seeds are also capable of floating.

Plan a simple experiment with a few different fruits to see which ones sink and which ones float.

  1. Fill a plastic container or sink half full of water.
  2. Have your child/the students predict whether an orange will sink or float.
  3. Drop the orange in the container (it will float).
  4. Now, peel the orange and test it again (the orange will sink).
  5. Ask: why did the orange float with the peel on? [Answer: An orange’s peel is full of little air pockets and oil that are less dense than water, so the peel helps the orange to float. When the peel is taken off, the orange pulp is denser than water to stay afloat, so it sinks.]
  6. Test an apple, avocado, or other fruit by dropping them in the container of water (no need to peel these). Have your child/the students first predict which might float, then discuss the results with the students.
Posted by: Discovery Science Center Blog | June 30, 2010

Make your own Rocket at Home!

Make Your Own Rocket!



Fuji Film Canisters with inverted lids

Seltzer tablets


Cookie Sheet


Make your own seltzer tablet rockets which demonstrate the results of a chemical reaction.  If you look at the ingredient list of Alka-seltzer, you will see it is made primarily from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and citric acid.  When dealing with acids and bases on the pH scale, you may notice that these two ingredients are the opposite of one another: baking soda is a base and citric acid is, of course, an acid.

When you drop the tablet in water, this enables a chemical reaction (very similar to when you mix baking soda and vinegar to create a model volcano). The dry chemicals are released into the water where they can chemically react with one another.  You can see the tablet start to break apart and fizz.  The fizzing is the production of gas bubbles  ~ the production of gas is evidence of a chemical reaction.  In this experiment, the gas produced is carbon dioxide (CO2).

The carbon dioxide in this reaction helps reduce the amount of stomach acid, relieving acid indigestion and heartburn (which is really esophagus burn since the stomach acid can work its way up into the esophagus).  There is also aspirin in the Alka-seltzer which can help relieve the pain produced by too much acid in the digestive system.

We are going to use this chemical reaction as energy to power our film canister rockets.


Fill  film containers about 1/3 of the way full of water.   On the count of three,  break piece of tablet in half, drop broken tablet pieces into the container, make sure they give the container a quick shake, then place the container lid-side down onto the cookie sheet.  Explain how important it is that the students then sit back and not hover over the cookie sheet ~ the force of the blast-off can do real harm.

What is happening

As the Alka-Seltzer tablet dissolves, it releases carbon dioxide, filling the film canister to the bursting point  ~ increasing the air pressure inside the canister.  The lid pops off as the gas rushes outward; this outward rushing air pushes the film canister upward ~ a great example of Newton’s Third Law:  “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

If you imagine yourself swimming in a pool and pushing off of the side to begin your swim ~ you have an idea of how the gas molecules push off of the end of the film canister on their way to rush out of the opening of the canister.  (The amount of force you have to use to push yourself off the side of the pool is equal to the amount of force required to get you a particular distance in the pool ~ your feet are pushing backwards while your body is moving forward in the opposite direction.)

Now think of you as the film canister and the side of the pool as the cookie sheet.  Since the film canister is not heavy, it responds by pushing off of (away from) the gas, thereby moving in the opposite direction of the escaping gas.  So the force hitting the cookie sheet as the gas rushes out is equal to the force that propels the film canister upward: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  (Use your hands starting palm-to-palm and moving away from each other to show equal forces moving in opposite directions.)

Older Posts »