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Where science rules

April 18, 2006|by ROBERT KELLER

Imagine that you are on Earth billions of years ago. Dinosaurs are walking across the Earth as they live their lives. All of a sudden, you see earthquakes, lava, meteorites and tornados thrashing through the lush, green area.

I saw this and much more - including a shock - at the Maryland Science Center in downtown Baltimore.

My family and I visited the science center on a recent Saturday. We started in the dinosaur exhibit. There were many large models of dinosaurs and dinosaur fossils. There was a spot where you could design a dinosaur on a computer and e-mail it to yourself.

One area of the science center, called Terralink, explained how Earth's water, atmosphere and land interact to produce weather, earthquakes and other things. A gizmo even made a small tornado. From a smoky cloud, a funnel-shaped cloud was drawn downward. When it touched the ground, it was a tornado.

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Terralink had a display about how scientists think tornados played a part in the dinosaurs' extinction.

Later, we went to see an IMAX movie. "Wild Safari 3D." The hourlong movie - about leopards, white rhinos, lions, elephants and buffalo - appeared to jump off the screen.

"The Birth of Aviation," a traveling exhibit, talked about Wilbur and Orville Wright and their innovations in flight. The science center had four flight simulator computer games that let kids invent a flying machine.

After lunch, we went to Davis Planetarium. Presenters were discussing the Big Bang - the theory that states the universe began in a huge explosion - and Albert Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2, which explains how matter converts to energy.

After we finished at the planetarium, we went to the demonstration area, where an instructor talked to a large group about static electricity. The instructor asked for volunteers and my younger brother was picked with about eight other people. They got in a line and held hands. The person on one end held a metal knob. The instructor charged himself up with static electricity and touched the other end of the line of volunteers. A jolt of static electricity was sent through everyone. Everyone jumped.

For more information about Maryland Science Center, call 1-410-685-5225 or go to www.mdsci.org.

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