New season for science in the Carolinas

From staff reportsSeptember 6, 2013 

Just as football teams and TV networks gear up for fall, museums and science centers often roll out touring or permanent presentations. Here’s a look at what some facilities in the Carolinas are offering. Check their websites for details on hours and admission.

Raleigh: N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

The “Dinosaurs in Motion” touring exhibit closes Sept. 12, to be replaced by “Birds of Paradise: Amazing Avian Evolution” (opening Oct. 13), a photo-based show about the rare and colorful birds of paradise, which are native to New Guinea and Australia. It’s part of an eight-year project by Cornell University scientist Edwin Scholes and National Geographic photographer Tim Laman. The interactive exhibit includes video, audio, artifacts and activities.

Museum admission is free, but there’s a charge to see “Birds of Paradise.”

Bug Fest is the museum’s largest annual event – 35,000 visitors in one day – and was recently described by CNN as one of the world’s weirdest food festivals. The no-charge Bug Fest ( on Sept. 21 features indoor and outdoor exhibits, roach races and science talks. And Cafe Insecta will have bugs you can eat: Try a chocolate chirp (cricket) cookie.

11 W. Jones St., Raleigh;

Durham: Museum of Life + Science

“The Best of Springs, Sprockets & Pulleys” – Nov. 16 through Feb. 23 – features choice items of moving art that New York tinker/artist Steve Gerberich created from found objects. The whimsical creations he builds have a strong component of engineering. This exhibit is included in regular admission.

Sept. 12 is the next installment of the popular, adults-only “Science of Beer” series. More than 15 breweries offer an evening with speakers, workshops and samplings. The cost ($18) includes access to all the museum’s indoor attractions.

433 W. Murray St., Durham;

Charlotte: Discovery Place

“Fantastic Frogs” returns Oct. 5-Jan. 1. The touring exhibit features live frogs, and it addresses frog behavior, how frogs protect themselves in the wild, how they attract mates, and other things they do to survive as a species. Entry is included in regular admission.

Arthropod Day – celebrating insects, arachnids (spiders, for example) and crustaceans – is Sept. 7. It’s your chance to see live ones, learn about them and taste some.

301 N. Tryon St., Charlotte;

Winston-Salem: SciWorks

“Take Flight” – Oct. 1 through Jan. 5 – explores the creative process of flight at various kid-oriented stations. Visitors can try their hand at building and flying their own planes, rockets and helicopters while uncovering fundamental principles of flight.

400 W. Hanes Mill Road, Winston-Salem;

Greensboro Science Center

The center’s SciQuarium debuted this summer. Its 23,000-square-foot space holds six major exhibits, including a 90,000-gallon shark tank featuring sharks, stingrays, moray eels and hundreds of other fish. SciQuarium also has exhibits displaying African penguins, the North Carolina fishing cat and Asian small-claw otter; you’ll also find a hands-on touch tank with de-barbed stingrays. A multispecies Amazon exhibit includes anacondas and golden lion tamarins.

4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro;

Gastonia: Schiele Museum of Natural History

“Mammal Safari” – an original exhibit – continues through the end of December. Visitors can take a virtual safari that showcases mounted animals, hands-on learning stations and more than 18 live animals, including capuchin monkeys, lemurs, wallabies and serval cats. “Mammal Safari” is included in general admission.

1500 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia;

Chapel Hill: Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

The planetarium’s “Scare-o-lina Skies” star show in the planetarium explores the dark legends behind the constellations.

A version for adults and older teens (it’s described as more PG-13) is at 8 p.m. Oct. 26 and at 8 p.m. Oct. 30; a family version (appropriate for 5 and older accompanied by parents) is at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 26 and 3:30 p.m. Oct. 27.

250 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill;

Rock Hill, S.C.: Museum of York County

“Way Back When: Ice Age Beasts of Carolina,” which opened this summer, features dioramas, specimens and murals that help explain what the area may have been like during Pleistocene times.

“We Choose Space” – a new, full-dome show at the Settlemyre Planetarium (included in museum admission) – deals with the lunar landings, the International Space Station and other aspects of space exploration. Shows are offered at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

There’s also a new planetarium show for children, “Legends of the Night Sky: Perseus and Andromeda,” at 11 a.m. Saturdays.

4621 Mount Gallant Road, Rock Hill, S.C.;

Columbia, S.C.: EdVenture

The “Maker Works” exhibit, which opened this summer at the kid-oriented science center, is where aspiring engineers can tinker with circuits, batteries, wires and more to create their own gizmos and gadgets. (Inexpensive kits can be purchased there.)

At other parts of “Maker Works,” they can create wind-powered objects and learn about sound and optics.

On Saturdays in October, “Maker Works” will offer classes, led by architects, for students in grades 1-3.

211 Gervais St., Columbia;

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