Simply Science: The Big Weather Experience

5:04 PM, Oct 18, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- They survived the north Minneapolis tornado nearly a year and a half ago and recently fifth graders from Noble Academy paid a visit to the Science Museum of Minnesota to learn more about twisters and other severe weather.

Tornado Alley on the Omnitheater screen is one piece of The Big Weather Experience; one that sticks with it's viewers. Fifth grader, Maddie Bliayang says there are "so many things I learned it's so hard to say."

Referring to the creator and videographer of the film, Maddie's classmate insists, "people thought he was crazy, but he's not actually that crazy, he was trying to see what a tornado was like in the heart of a tornado."

Storms on stage with presenter James Rodriguez is the other crowd pleaser that teaches about different components of a storm.

First, clouds and rain.

Rodriguez teaches, "water, evaporates form the surface of the earth, it rises, it cools and it condenses. And the result is...a cloud!"

Then, thunder.

If you're very very close to a lightning bolt, you're gonna hear a boom or a crack. But if you're far away from that lightning bolt you're gonna hear a rumbling thunder. And it's the same thunder, but what happens is, when you're far away you're hearing the echo of that thunder between the cloud and the ground, explains Rodriguez.

Next comes lightning.

"If a lightning bolt strikes your car, the electric charge will travel on the very outside surface of the car, or in this case, the cage," he demonstrates with a teacher, Johanna Olmstead enclosed in a metal cage.

And of course a tornado.

"When spinning occurs in a tornado, its an efficient way for heavy air to drop and lighter air to rise," he finishes.

The visuals and even some of the science behind them stays with the students.

Emma Kwaidah says she "thought the ball that was up would like go through the cage and like zap her hand, but it didn't."

Her classmate Kayla Ly adds, "a lot of air combine together can make thunder, and I didn't know that," referring to the sound of thunder that is made by rapidly expanding air.

The Big Weather Experience runs through December 21 at the Science Museum of Minnesota. 




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