Science on a Sphere

Solar System, Part I – The Rocky Planets

Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, the first four planets closest to the Sun are all displayed in brilliant, visual detail. As we take a tour of these “rocky” planets, so called because they consist of silicate rock and metal, we discover why physical differences among the planets makes them all so visually different. Visitors will also learn why the conditions on Earth make it hospitable to life – including us!

Solar System, Part II – Gas Giants

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are the “gas giants” in our solar system. These planets are different from rocky planets because they are tremendously large and made mostly of gases, like helium and hydrogen. We will visit the gas giants and some of their more interesting moons. Pluto will be the last stop on our tour, and we will help explain why Pluto is no longer considered a planet!

Ocean

The ocean is tremendously important to our planet in terms of sustaining life. We will take a tour of the Earth’s ocean (it will be clear that there is, in fact, only one ocean!) to understand how it helps create weather, transport materials and nutrients, and provides sustenance for humans.

Shrimp Fishery and Food Mileage

America loves shrimp, but did you know it was our favorite seafood? Where do shrimp come from, and how are they harvested? Follow the journey of shrimp as they are hatched, captured and end up on your dinner plate. Bet you didn’t know that shrimp probably travel more miles to get to your plate than you do in a year!

Dynamic Earth

The surface of the Earth is dynamic and constantly moving. Through fossils and geological evidence, we have been able to track the movements of the tectonic plates. The continents are part of these plates, and their movements have produced major changes both in the past and during the present day. Even though we are not usually aware of the plates moving beneath us, this motion can contribute to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis.

Weather and Climate

Energy, in the form of light and heat, is transferred from the Sun and blankets the globe. As this energy moves and interacts with other physical forces in the atmosphere, our weather and climate are created. Using modern technologies we can now look at historic climate and see how our climate today varies from what we might have seen in the past.

Water

Water is vital to life—over three-quarters of the human body is water. Photosynthesis in the ocean provides between 50–80 percent of the oxygen we use to breathe. So where does water come from, and why is it so necessary for living things? We will track the movement of water, in its various states, through the environment as a part of the water cycle. We will also demonstrate the importance of conserving this natural resource.

Sun, Light and Life

The Sun plays a critical role in providing energy for all living things on Earth. We will take a close-up look at the Sun, explaining how electromagnetic energy (visible light) from the Sun helps plants grow which, in turn, feed animals and ultimately humans. Lastly, we will look at ways to harness solar energy, helping provide sustainable energy for all living things on our planet.

Climate Change

To understand what is happening to the Earth we must understand the major components that make up the Earth. We will view the five distinctly different “spheres,” representing air, water, rock, ice and life, which make up the Earth we know. The different spheres are atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere and biosphere. We will also view the daily and yearly changes humans are making to our climate. Some potential consequences of climate change will be discussed but, most importantly, the audience will be given everyday solutions they can fit into their busy lives.

Population Growth

Human population is growing exponentially, and it is predicted to reach nine billion individuals by 2050. As population continues to grow, new land must be developed for housing, commerce and agriculture. Coastal areas are among the most densely populated, but populations will move inland as the coastlines become full. As we make changes to the landscape around us, how are we affecting other areas on the planet? Is there a way that human population growth can occur sustainably?

Biodiversity

Life on the Earth is not evenly distributed. The ocean contains a vast array of biological diversity, but marine organisms are mostly found in specific areas. Visitors will learn about productive zones of the ocean including coral reefs, hydrothermal vents, and upwelling areas. Tracking chlorophyll, temperature, and currents, it becomes possible to identify why some areas of the ocean are biological deserts, and others are veritable buffets.

The Elements

Four distinctive and yet inextricably linked elements – earth, fire, water and wind – interact to provide humans with the place that we call home. We live in relative comfort because of the balanced system created by their constant moving and mingling. Humans alter this system in ways that we can observe but do not yet fully understand. This presentation gives a new perspective on the elements that make earth hospitable enough to be our home planet.

Emergence

How much do humans know about life in the universe? What conditions make the emergence of life possible? Join us as we tour the solar system. We will review the requirements for the emergence of life on other planets and discover how life is still emerging and developing here on Earth.

Telemetry

Scientists use satellite tags to track animal movement throughout the ocean. By tagging these animals we are given a glimpse into their migration paths and behavior. Knowing more about their behavior patterns close to shore or where animals over-winter helps scientists make more informed management decisions about those particular species. Come watch with us as we trace the journeys of sharks, turtles and seals.

Primary Productivity

Sunlight is used by living things to create food. This transfer of light energy into chemical energy, and specifically carbohydrates, occurs through photosynthesis. All the “food” that is created is then used either by the plants (and producers) or by consumers as the energy is passed through the food web. Together we can track the primary production both on land and in the ocean and understand how important the role of each organism is in the food web.