Louisville is mad about science

03/30/2013  | 
experiential learning

Louisville offers a range of possibilities to expand your classroom beyond its walls. The city’s student-friendly attractions allow exploration of how science plays a part in manufacturing, transportation, space, art, food and more.

The “Mad Science” theme is ever present at the Kentucky Science Center where your group can solve a crime with forensic evidence or make-your-own ice cream. Hands on activities, permanent exhibits, award-winning IMAX movies as well as traveling exhibits expand the mind of every budding scientist.

“In Pulse of Surgery” is a state-of-the-art program that brings students at the Science Center into the operating room at Jewish Hospital via video conference during real-time heart surgery. Students, grades seven through 12, interact with the surgeon, nursing staff and others while learning about the procedure, the tools used, and the techniques that must be mastered in order to perform a successful open-heart surgery. This popular program includes pre- and post-visit curriculum guides, student workbooks, and resource DVDs. This program is so popular is often sells out early.

To help plan your visit, the center publishes an online education guide covering early childhood programs, field experience options, programs by grade and subject, hands-on labs and more.

The Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium provides a unique learning environment for astronomy and space science education.

Based on time available and grade level, teachers can select from a variety of curriculum and corresponding planetarium shows such as :

  • “Max Goes to the Moon” — a visual exploration of what causes night and day
  • “Astronaut” — highlights the challenges of human space exploration
  • “Oasis in Space” — illustrates the earth’s unique, life-sustaining placement in the solar system
  • “Earth’s Climate Change”

Students are immersed in easy-to-comprehend visual information that is enhanced with live demonstrations and discussions led by planetarium educators. The experiences are designed to address the National Science Education Standards.

Tours of the George Rogers Clark cabin — Revolutionary War hero and founder of Louisville — are available weekdays, late-spring through mid-autumn. It sounds like a history lesson, and it is, but it’s also an exploration in nature at The Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Louisville was established at this point on the Ohio River because of the natural series of rapids that caused the Ohio River to drop 26 feet over a distance of two and a half miles. Today, the 390 million year old fossil beds are among the largest, naturally exposed, Devonian fossil beds in the world.

The Park has been providing K-16 educational opportunities since it opened in 1994. Your modern day explorers find exhibits, artifacts and a movie in the Interpretive Center. To keep your students on-task, download activities from the Park’s website. Take it a step further and schedule an indoor, or outdoor — depending on time of year — Fossil and Mineral Lab targeted for your students’ education level.

Another history lesson will sneak into the experience at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory as the story behind the world-famous baseball bat, and the family-owned company that has created it since 1884, unfolds. In 1880, Bud Hillerich, who was an amateur baseball player, became an apprentice in his father’s woodworking shop. Young Bud made his own baseball bats along with bats for several of his teammates.

A great place to start in the museum is the Tree’s Journey exhibit. Your students will learn the baseball bats are made from ash and maple grown in forests in Pennsylvania and New York. The trees are taken to a mill where the logs are cut into cylinders of wood called billets. The billets are dried and shipped to the factory.

Right before your very eyes, on the factory tour, a piece of wood is spun into the shape of a baseball bat. You’ll see both what lathes — a machine tool that rotates the object being made on its axis — looked like before computerized machinery was available and the modern day lathe that forms the shape in only 90 seconds!

The museum’s online education center has resources for lesson planning on topics including fun facts, “Forest to the Field: The Process of Making Baseball Bats” and “Hitting a Baseball: It’s All in The Physics.”

The nationally-recognized Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest houses a nature center made completely of recycled materials, more than 8,000 plant species, picnic areas and 30 miles of hiking trails.

With a strong emphasis on education classes, programs and special events enhance your visit to Bernheim. Programs geared toward Pre-K to K, Primary, Intermediate, Middle School, High School and College students, Bernheim not only brings science to life through real-world experiences, but also exposes students to the fresh air, scenic landscapes, and the tranquility of forests, grasslands and wetlands. Programs range from 60 to 90 minutes in length.

The Louisville CVB’s Group Sales Manager can help you turn the above list of “Mad Science” themed ideas into a detailed itinerary that includes student-friendly shopping, restaurants, accommodations and events.

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