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The Big Weather Experience

Weather Exhibits

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tornadoWind

Weather Station (Level 5)
Use the computer to check the weather on the roof of the museum. Then check the weather radar and forecasts for other parts of the country.

Whirligig / Wind Vane (Level 3)
Observe the behavior of Vollis Simpson's Whirligig on the Terrace. This hand-crafted art piece can tell you a lot about the speed and direction of the wind.

Aeolian Landscape (Level 3)
See how wind can sculpt the snow and sand to create beautiful landscapes. Set the wind direction in another path and sculpt a new landscape.

High & Low Pressure Wind model (Level 5)
Use a computer model to see how the winds behave. Change the strength of the low pressure and high pressure areas, the type of ground, and even stop the earth from spinning to see how these change the winds you create.

High Low Table (Level 5)
Spin the table to see how the Coriolis effect causes fluids to change direction as they flow from high to low pressure zones.

Clouds

The World of Clouds chart (Level 5)
On this chart see the elevation of different cloud types and check for the pattern in the names.

Cloud Pump (Level 5)
Try to make a cloud inside the piston chamber. Then add some smoke and see if you can make a better cloud. See how volume, pressure and temperature are all related (Charles's Law, Ideal Gas Law).

Dew Point (Level 5)
Chill a plate and watch the dew form. Measure the temperature and determine the dew point and the relative humidity.

Clouds Model (Level 5)
Change the variables in the real data within this model to see how temperature and humidity affect cloud formation and rainfall.

Storms

Warm & Cold Front models (Level 5)
Create beautiful models of what happens when warm, moist air masses and cold, dry air masses meet.

Convection Currents (Level 3)
Create shadows of warmer water rising in colder water. Try to create smooth laminar flow or turbulent eddies.

Mid-Latitude Cyclone model (Level 5)
Set the temperature range for the nation, change the flow of the Jet Stream, and see how they change the winter weather everywhere East of the Rockies on this computer model. Then try your hand at predicting the weather at your weather station.

Tornado (Level 3)
Water mist forms a tornado as it is drawn up by a fan and rotated by jets of air. Move the large flaps on either side and see how that affects the formation of the tornado.

Fulgurite (Level 5)
This "fossil lightning" is created when lightning strikes the ground in an area with high sand content.

Barometers (Level 3)
Read the atmospheric pressure on the mercury barometer and see how it has changed over the week on the aneroid barometer.

Hygrothermograph (Level 3)
See a continual graph of temperature and dew point changes over the course of a week.

Sun, Atmosphere and Weather

Summer Sun / Winter Sun (Level 5)
Change the angle of Minnesota with respect to the model of the sun. See how the change in the angle of incidence of the sun's light changes the reception of solar energy in Minnesota. Change how far the Earth is from the sun. How does that affect the amount of energy we get from the sun?

Orrery (Level 5)
Rotate the earth around the sun and observe important phenomena such as the equinoxes, solstices, and lunar and solar eclipses.

Seasons Model (Level 5)
Change the Earth's tilt and the shape (eccentricity) of the Earth's orbit to see how it affects length of daylight hours and the radiant solar energy we receive throughout a year. See how this would change the temperatures at different places on the globe on this computer model.

Earth's a Peach (Level 3)
This large graphic wall will really let you see how thin a layer the troposphere (where all our weather happens) really is.

Why Do We Need an Atmosphere? (Level 3)
Use temperature guns and heat lamps to learn about the importance of the atmosphere in heating the planet.

Air Flow

Wind Tubes (Level 3)
Watch how materials behave in the tall wind tube. Then use the materials to design your own flyer. Make changes to your design to improve flight or performance and test again.

Wind Turbine (Level 3)
Try the different turbine blades to see how much energy your turbine can produce. Then change the design to see if you can improve its performance.

Air Stream - Bernouli Ball (Level 3)
See how a ball floats in a flow of air as you tip the blower and cause the ball to move farther and farther from the source until it drops. Try your hand at dribbling the ball without touching it or challenge yourself to keep it floating even with the blower all the way down.

Aerodynamics Lab (Level 3)
Test lift and drag on different shapes in our wind tunnel. See the graph of these plotted against the wind speed.

Small Plane (Level 3)
Watch your wind speed and control the angle of your rudder! See how changes in these affect a small model air plane.

Streamline and Turbulent Flow (Level 3)
As fluids flow past different shapes, turbulence patterns are revealed, showing their differences in resistance to the flow.