This exhibit demonstrates symmetry in mirror reflections. With the mirrors unique configuration, all sorts of impossible tricks seem easy. A visitor stands with the edge of the large mirror bisecting his body. From the perspective of an onlooker, the person still looks whole because of the symmetry of the human body. The person in the mirror will appear to be able to lift both feet off the ground or make their head disappear.

Age Range: All
Scientific Discipline: Physical Science


McWane Science Center’s new exhibit Basketball: The Science of Swish gives visitors a chance to learn the science behind shooting hoops.

Alabama based company CTS and NOAH Basketball developed the software, a computerized shooting system that helps a player find the optimal degree of arc on basketball shots. This technology is now used by pro teams including the Miami Heat and others around the country. The technology helps players measure the arc of their shot and demonstrates that maintaining a certain degree of arc in your throw is important for accuracy.

In the new Basketball: The Science of Swish exhibit, guests will step into the “shooting cage” and throw several foul shots. The Noah Basketball system will detect the arc of the basketball and will show a snapshot of the visitor’s free throw with a graphical representation of the actual arc superimposed over the ideal arc. Guests can shoot the ball, see the result, and actually see each shot’s trajectory. Visitors will attempt to correct their shot to best approximate the ideal arc. Guests will learn how arc affects the accuracy of a foul shot and the degree of arc the visitor should be striving to achieve.

The new exhibit will be a permanent addition to the museum.

For more information about Noah Basketball systems visit


This exhibit demonstrates the importance of distribution of mass. If you step on a single nail, your foot exerts tremendous pressure on the tiny point of the nail, allowing it to pierce your foot. On the Bed of Nails, the weight of your body is distributed across the points of hundreds of nails. Your body does not exert enough pressure on any one nail for it to break the skin.

Age Range: All
Scientific Discipline: Physical Science


Catenary Arch is an arch assembled out of numbered foam blocks. The blocks are placed in numerical order, depending on their shape, to create a vertical structure that can stand by itself. Graphics, drawings and photographs explain why the Catenary is a good configuration for an arch that can support its own weight.

Scientific Discipline: Physical Science


The Chaotic Pendulum contains a deceptively simple set of pendulums in a steel and plexiglass case. A central, T-shaped bar supports three mounted bars from its ends. The “T” is mounted at the intersection of the upright and the cross arm. Twist the knob to start the pendulum moving. Intuition says that the resulting motion of this system should be, if not simple, at least predictable. Intuition, however, does not work with this device since its motion is chaotic, extremely complicated and long-lived.

Scientific Discipline: Physical Science


The Combination Safes are only opened by a single sequence of numbers. Use math to figure out how difficult the challenge of opening the safe will be. Did you know that numbers that open a safe are not just a combination? A combination is a group of things jumbled in any order. A permutation is a group in a particular order. To crack most safes, you need the right permutation of the correct combination.

Scientific Discipline: Mathematics


Inside this exhibit, called the Distortion Room, things appear to be different when looking at the monitor or through the peephole. As a result of the room shape, a person standing in one corner appears to be a giant, while a person standing in the other corner appears to be a dwarf. The illusion is so convincing that a person walking back and forth from the left corner to the right corner actually appears to be growing or shrinking.

Scientific Discipline: Physical Science
Science at Work: Set designers use this technique to create visual effects for theatrical performances and motion pictures.


There is an advantage to good leverage, as you’ll discover in the exciting competition at the Giant Lever. Visitors soon realize that lever arm distance influences who wins the tug-of-war. Dynamometers on each side of the lever allow visitors to see the force exerted, while a victory signal reveals the mechanical advantage of this simple machine.

Scientific Discipline: Physical Science


While at the Height Checker, a computerized voice will ask you to stand on a pair of footprints and the computer will measure your height. Visitors can manipulate their height to try to fool the computer into thinking they are shorter or taller.

Scientific Discipline: Physical Science


Just relax. That’s the key to winning Mindball. Once your awesome brainwaves “push” the ball into your opponent’s goal, you win. The brain is an amazing electrochemical organ. Electrical activity emanating from the brain is displayed in the form of brainwaves. Mindball works by measuring two of the four categories of these brainwaves – alpha and theta waves. The Mindball headband contains small electrodes that measure the tiny electrical signals produced by your brain waves, and then compares those signals to your opponent’s.


Neuroscientists and psychiatrists use electroencephalography to produce traces known as an electroencephalogram (EEG). An EEG represents an electrical signal from a large number of neurons. These can be analyzed to determine brain activity during controlled behavior or to analyze sleep patterns.

Scientific Discipline: Technology, Life Science


Go head-to-head in this challenge of the masses! At Off to the Races you can experiment with the distribution of mass. Position the weights on each wheel in different places. Let both of them go at the same time and see which one gets to the bottom of the incline first. Test and see if you can produce a winner every time.

Scientific Discipline: Physical Science


The Optical Spinners demonstrate visual phenomena such as the after-effect, the Fechner-Benham Effect, and the Corollers Effect.

Scientific Discipline: Physical Science


At McWane Science Center, visitors can take part in educational programs and shows throughout the day. In fact, guests can catch a different program every hour! Protozone and Demonstration Station are prime spots to catch a program. Programs schedules and topics vary. Check the digital signs and the back of your map the day of your visit for a full schedule.


Buckle up at the Pulley Chair Lift and see if you can hoist yourself into the air using a pulley. Different pulley systems are explored to see which configuration is easiest to use.

Scientific Discipline: Physical Science


When you push together (compress) the particles that make up air, you create a force that can be put to work. By dropping a bowling ball at the base of the Tennis Ball Launcher, you compress the air, which then pushes up on the tennis ball to launch it toward the ceiling. Can you figure out the correct amount of pressure to make the tennis ball hit the target on the ceiling?

Scientific Discipline: Physical Science


The Turntable rotates like a giant compact disk. A supply of small metal disks, rings, and balls is scattered around the stationary portion of the tabletop. Try to keep the rings on their edge spinning on the disk. Next try a disk laid flat, which will move in a straight line as soon as it slides off the Turntable. Your challenge is to get the disks and rings to stand on edge while moving around the Turntable.

Scientific Discipline: Physical Science