Summer Sale Extended! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Arts
Entertainment Arts

Fun with (irresponsible) science

Sure, being responsible is no fun. Which is why going to the Maryland Science Center over the next few weeks should prove such a blast.

Welcome to the "Summer of Irresponsible Science," an excuse for lots of grown men and women to do the kinds of things their science teachers always warned them against. Things melt, blow up, gush and flame.

"This is an opportunity to do some of the kinds of things you always thought about doing, but maybe were afraid to do," said Chris Cropper, the science center's senior director of marketing. "It's all about organized chaos; that's probably the best way to look at it."

Everything's perfectly safe, Cropper assures, if perhaps a bit messy. Like the garbage can full of pingpong balls, into which is dropped a soda bottle full of dry ice and some warm water. Talk about your big-bang theory.

"It's a pretty impressive explosion," Cropper said with a laugh. "Our ticket agents actually hold umbrellas up before they do that, so they don't get bombarded."

In fact, science center visitors can get an idea of what they're in for without even setting foot inside the building. All they have to do is look up on the roof.

"You will see a gigantic bright-green launch tube strapped to the roof," Cropper said. The staff has been dropping melons, milk jugs, all kinds of stuff. "Just to see what happens," he explained.

All this mayhem has some underlying scientific validity, of course — some teaching value. That's why it's OK to have it in a museum.

"We're demonstrating some basic science principles," Cropper re-assures the skeptical. "Gravity, physics, chemical reactions, buoyancy."

Like the experiment where a giant cylinder of soap has some methane gas pumped into it?

"A big soap bubble column rises straight out of that, and they light it on fire," Cropper said with noticeable glee, noting the rare chance for learning such an experience presents. "Hopefully, not too many people have the opportunity to mix methane and dishwashing liquid."

Guerrilla "science ninjas" roam throughout the center, offering even more chaos for visitors to enjoy. They may ignite some flash paper; they might use a portable Van de Graaff generator to make someone's hair stand on end.

If you're really lucky, you might even get to see what happens when you combine a blow dryer and a giant dry-cleaning bag — two things, Cropper points out, "that everybody is told not play with, from when they were a little kid"

But don't try any of these experiments at home, Cropper stresses. It's important to let the science center staff have all the fun.

"We like to say, 'Don't try it at home, try it here," he explains. "After all, we are trained professionals here."

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

If you go

"The Summer of Irresponsible Science" runs through Labor Day at the Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St. Free with museum admission, which runs $4-$18.95. Information: 410-685-5225 or mdsci.org.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Baltimore's Vagabond Players still going strong 100 years after launch

    Baltimore's Vagabond Players still going strong 100 years after launch

    Maybe it was something in the water — or maybe just that it was finally safe to drink after years of a dicey supply system. Whatever the cause, something sure started affecting a lot of culturally minded folks a century ago in Baltimore.

  • Rep Stage to launch season with bittersweet 'Baltimore Waltz'

    Rep Stage to launch season with bittersweet 'Baltimore Waltz'

    When Rep Stage decided to devote the entire 2015-2016 season to works by contemporary female playwrights, the company's co-producing artistic director, Suzanne Beal, sought to make a statement with the first work. Her choice: Paula Vogel's "The Baltimore Waltz," opening this weekend.

  • A tiny tome courts baseball newbies

    A tiny tome courts baseball newbies

    If your kid doesn't like baseball — and don't worry, it's a character flaw that can be overcome — Kevin O'Malley and Charlie Vascellaro are here to help.

  • A 'Melange' of jazz, classical — and life

    A 'Melange' of jazz, classical — and life

    W.C. Handy's bluesy "Chantez Les Bas" segues, somehow, into the slow movement from Brahms' Violin Concerto. Debussy's "Clair de Lune," lushly transformed by a string quartet, a subtle drummer and a man sweetly singing about masks and moonlight, conjures up images of an unusually sophisticated nightclub.

  • Review: 'Purity' by Jonathan Franzen

    Review: 'Purity' by Jonathan Franzen

    It's been about 15 years since Jonathan Franzen started conquering the world, a time in which he's spurned Oprah, enraged Twitter, appeared on the cover of Time and published two best-selling family sagas, "The Corrections" and "Freedom."

  • 1st African-American actor to play Valjean on Broadway dies

    Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the first African-American and youngest person to ever play the role of Jean Valjean in "Les Misérables" on Broadway has died after falling from a fire escape, according to a show spokesman. He was 21.

Comments
Loading
75°