Museum of Nature & Science's Tech Fest Pure Adrenaline for Future Rocket Scientists

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Hands-on experiences will put visitors in touch with the technology driving everyday life and have them driving technology.

From sports cars and high-powered motorbikes to rockets and virtual interactive worlds, Tech Fest at the Museum of Nature & Science Feb. 21 and 22 will thrill kids and grownups with an eye-popping look at everyday technology that is anything but mundane.

Through hands-on activities, demonstrations and "electrifying" shows, visitors can explore the engineering behind their favorite game console, the green design for low-emission cars, how electricity is generated and how buildings keep from falling down.

Science buffs can see the amazing IMAX® films "Wired to Win" and "Journey to Incredible Caves," and get jolted out of their seats at the "Electric Theater" show. Tech Fest caps off National Engineers Week with a celebration that hopes to inspire the next generation of science leaders.

"Inspiring children at an early age to take an interest in science and math is critical to our economic future and is a central mission of this museum," said Steve Hinkley, director of education at MNS. "Texas is one the leading states in America for high-tech companies. We must produce more students with science and engineering degrees to fill the high-paying jobs that our tech-driven economy requires."

To encourage children and their families to consider engineering and other technical careers, the Museum of Nature & Science has lined up a fun-filled weekend of experiences during Tech Fest. With presenting sponsor Lockheed Martin and supporting sponsor IBM, Tech Fest will feature these and other slices of techno-adrenaline:

  • Zoom! Zoom! The fastest race cars in the world go over 220 mph and are capable of pulling 5g in some corners. The performance of these cars is highly dependent on advanced electronics, aerodynamics, suspension and tires. The engine and transmission of a modern Formula One car are some of the most highly stressed pieces of machinery on the planet. While Ferrari's Formula One car is busy in Europe, visitors can see a Ferrari up close and learn about the state-of-the art technology behind one of the world's fastest and most advanced cars.
  • Can you see sound? You can if you are using a Plasma Speaker. This futuristic technology produces glowing plasma sparks in the air that makes sound without moving parts. You'll be amazed at how bright sound can be!
  • What makes the Wii so unique in the gaming world? Learn how the "Wiimote" tracks your body movements and transfers your physical skills onto your TV. Lockheed Martin engineers will use Wiimotes and a computer program to show kids how their movements are captured in the game world. Several consoles will let gamers "show their hand" at virtual bowling, baseball and other sports.
  • 3-2-1 liftoff! If launching missiles is what you prefer, a real rocket scientist -- Dr. Raj Narayanan - will offer an engaging discussion about the latest in aerospace technology. He will work with young visitors to build a model rocket and launch it straight to the moon - or at least high over Fair Park!
  • IBM experts will demonstrate the technology and engineering behind virtual online worlds and offer two interactive games for families to join in - Power Up a 3D game where kids save the world from ecological disaster by building solar panels and solving real-world challenges; and The Forbidden City: Beyond Space and Time where kids can explore China's Forbidden City and interact with Chinese people in a virtual world environment.
  • This gives new meaning to the phrase "spine stiffening!" Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children will show how doctors are using technology to help correct scoliosis - a curvature of the spine. Real prosthetic legs and arms will help explain the technology of how people function after losing a limb.
  • Ever wonder how suspension bridges stay up or why the lights all come on at the flick of a switch? The Dallas Society of Women Engineers will conduct a hands-on session that gets kids into the action of building bridges and electrical circuits to see just what an engineer really does!
  • Cowboy Toyota will bring in the latest in hybrid cars to show how they can save energy by combining electric power with gasoline engines.
  • Europe's number one motorcycles are also the most highly engineered. Experience two generations of two-wheel technology and see how motorcycles have advanced over 30 years. BMW enthusiasts will be on hand to discuss the engineering behind the Boxer engine's construction (and why they call it that), brake systems, safety gear, suspension and drive shafts. Visitors can sit on a bike and see what it's like, and even get their photo taken perched on the machine! Files will be captured digitally and sent to you at no cost, so hop on and go for a virtual ride.

Special Shows include:

Arc Attack! -- a unique DJ set up that generates an 'electrifying' audiovisual performance and produces an electrical arc similar to a continuous lightning bolt: Saturday 11, 1, 3 and Sunday 1, 3

Blast Off! -- Learn about the physics and aerodynamics of rockets and witness a full-scale launch in Fair Park. On Sunday, guests will be able to launch their own stomp rocket: Saturday 12:30, 2:30 and Sunday 12:30 - 2:30

For MNS members only:

  • Come discover fun toys that you throw at the wall to make light up. Using LED technology, these "throwies" are fun and funny.
  • A special place to rest, enjoy snacks/beverages.

Tech Fest will be at MNS in the Science Building, 1318 S. 2nd Ave. and the Nature Building, 3535 Grand Ave. (in Fair Park between gates 5 and 6) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 21 and from noon to 5 p.m. on Feb. 22. Admission for MNS members is free; adults $8.75, children 3 to 11 $5.50, youth 12 to 18, seniors 62 and over, and students 18 and over with an ID $7.75. IMAX tickets are additional. For information call 214-428-5555 or visit http://www.natureandscience.org. Media will find pictures at: http://www.tinyurl.com/techfest09.

About the Museum of Nature & Science
The Museum of Nature & Science, formerly the Dallas Museum of Natural History, The Science Place and the Dallas Children's Museum, is a non-profit educational organization located in Dallas' Fair Park. In support of its mission to inspire minds through nature and science, MNS delivers exciting, engaging and innovative visitor experiences through its education, exhibition and research and collections programming for students, teachers, families and life-long learners. The MNS campus includes the TI Founders IMAX® Theater and a cutting-edge digital planetarium. The museum is supported in part by funds from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Texas Commission on the Arts and EDS. To learn more visit http://www.natureandscience.org.

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Cynthia Stine
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