Kids, if you thought you were about to go all summer without learning anything, think again. The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History has other plans. Don’t worry, you will be having so much fun at the new exhibit that you will hardly realize you’re doing math.
Design Zone is the new hands-on exhibit at the museum and runs through Sept. 7. Visitors will explore music, video games, skateboarding and more in this traveling exhibition by using algebra to make predictions and calculate solutions.
More than just your average homework sheet, these activities give visitors a chance to solve real world problems.
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For anyone who has ever asked, “When am I ever going to use this math?” the answer is right at your fingertips. You can push buttons, pull levers, test ideas — and you don’t have to be afraid to make mistakes because you can try again and again.
The exhibit is organized into seven categories and is underwritten by the National Science Foundation, so each area meets national standards for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education. Although the exhibit will more closely match subjects taught in late elementary and middle school, both younger and older visitors will find something to enjoy.
Here is a look at what kids and parents can expect.
The Dance Party section is all about music, sound and lights. Learn how the length of a tube or guitar string affects the pitch of musical notes. Push buttons and adjust settings on the Digital Strings station to make music. Work with a partner on the Slide-a-Phone or go solo on Whack-a-Phone to create your own unique sound through pipes.
At the Light Show DJ station, adjust the light patterns on the dance floor by turning knobs to move the reflective mirrors. Start the program to see how your show looks live.
Video Game Design Lab
In this lab, use a joystick to navigate through simple video games by calculating each move on a console and screen. The games are Jump On It and Marble Maze.
The object is to move through an obstacle course by jumping and turning. Adjust each variable by calculating how high to jump or which direction to move.
In Hit the Target, the goal is to launch a whiffle ball at just the right angle to land in each of the six target holes. Test your graphing skills by calculating the right angle for each target. Predict where the ball will land and press the launch button to shoot the ball from the catapult and see if you were right.
This area shows visitors how math calculations can strengthen any structure. Use building blocks at three stations to create a sturdy structure. Construct a studio, a tower and a plaza platform by following the picture guide. Use your knowledge of patterns to predict what comes next to complete the last steps.
The Balancing Art station puts your multiplication skills to the test. A balance beam with empty holes allows weighted pieces to be hooked on either side.
The holes and pieces are all numbered and the trick is to make sure the numbers multiply to be equal on both sides.
For an extra challenge, use the bonus unnumbered pieces to complete a balanced multiplication problem and solve the mystery number.
Digital Design is all about images. At the Mirror Multiplier, use plastic tangrams-style tile pieces to replicate the shapes for each challenge.
Build a shape on the platform and adjust the mirrors to create a repeating pattern. Challenges use between three and eight pieces to create a design that can be multiplied to resemble a kaleidoscope. Lift the flap under each challenge to find the solution.
Make small adjustment at the Picture Calculator station to turn a simple photo into a work of art. Find out how pixels use math to adjust the black-and-white color scale on an image.
Find a friend or a neighbor to complete the two-person challenge at Drawing in Motion. One person operates the X-axis while a second is in charge of the Y-axis. The goal is to draw a straight line across the monitor screen.
Both people move their controllers in tandem, but if you move too quickly, a straight line will become a squiggle.
Action Sports applies math facts to bicycles, roller skates and skateboards. Get pedaling at the Bike Race and Testing Gears stations. In the first, hop on the bike and pedal your feet through a virtual course and learn how a graph can be used to measure the distance traveled.
In the second, pedal by hand to learn how gear ratios can make a single turn cover more distance.
Test out what you learned at the nearby Designing for Speed station, where the challenge is to find the fastest and slowest wheels by rolling each down the ramp and recording the results.
At the computer, design a skate park by learning about the relationship between steepness and direction.
In this section, each station demonstrates the math behind your favorite thrill rides. Build your own virtual roller coaster using the computer program. See how the same principles that are important with a skate park are applied to a roller coaster.
At the Fast Tracks station, test what you learned about steepness by rolling a ball from various points on the track. Use multiplication to calculate where the ball will land at the bottom when released higher or lower.
DJ Recording Studio
Explore the noninstrumental side of music in the DJ Recording Studio. Each of the stations in this section is a component of a recording studio: Turntables, Music Mix and Drum Machine.
Here, learn to use math to understand the relationship between beats and track patterns. Line up the music tracks to create a unique sound. Play it back and see how the patterns repeat.
Using the Sound Graph, draw shapes on the monitor. Choose a whistle or record your own voice to see how the sound waves create patterns.
▪ Through Sept. 7
▪ Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, 1600 Gendy St., Fort Worth
▪ 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday
▪ $11-$15; members free
▪ 817-255-9300; fortworthmuseum.org