Science bus coming to town

by Nkwanda Jah

This fall, the Cultural Arts Coalition will introduce our Science Bus, an interactive Science experience for students throughout Alachua County. 

The exhibits aboard the bus are similar to those pioneered by Brian Jones of University of Colorado, Ft. Collins and his “Little Shop of Physics.” 

These exhibits have two main features: They capture and frame otherwise unusual physical phenomenon, and they will use inexpensive and readily available materials to construct demonstrations. 

For example, one exhibit features a mattress-inflating blower that levitates a string by the Coanda effect. Another, powered by a kitchen hand-mixer, makes a traveling wave in a chain stand still. A microwave oven with neon bulbs inside will demonstrate the nodes and antinodes in the interference patterns of electromagnetic waves.

Exhibits made from discarded materials are very approachable to kids, and help them to realize that physics is something fascinating that anyone can explore. 

A bus full of exhibits is an efficient way to do outreach. Once initially outfitted with exhibits, the bus simply travels to its destination and opens its doors. 

The inside of the bus is lined with contiguous, child-height tables bolted to the walls and covered with colorful felt. 

Densely packed exhibits are stuck right in place with velcro. This innovative arrangement means that the Physics Bus can literally pull up to any school, park, or community center — even on short notice, no need to book an exhibition space — open its doors, and be ready to serve the public. 

Given suitable surroundings such as a quiet corner of a parking lot or near a park or grassy area, the awning can be extended and extra exhibits pulled out of the under-table storage on the bus and displayed outside. The awning effectively doubles the exhibition space as well as the number of children that can be served at once, and it serves as a demonstration arena for larger exhibits such as a giant vortex cannon made out of a clothes hamper.

These interactive stations on our Science bus will include physics, biology, astronomy, entomology, geology and  food science. We will share books, games and creative ways to make science fun. Our Art wall and scavenger hunt will give students an opportunity to use their creativity to learn.

We need your financial help to assure that we are able to offer this project for this school term. To make a donation and learn more about Cultural Arts Coalition, please visit our website at, or make checks payable to Cultural Arts Coalition and mail to 321 NW 10th St. ,Gainesville, FL 32601.

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