GEAR UP: The Science of Bikes

The bicycle is an elegant example of basic science principles – forces and motion, energy, material science. Organized by Carnegie Science Center, we are proud to present GEAR UP: The Science of Bikes, a temporary exhibit opening on Saturday, May 18, 2019, that will run through the year.

Opening Day Activities Saturday, May 18, 2019:

Get the first look at the EcoTarium’s new exhibit, GEAR UP: The Science of Bikes on opening weekend. The celebration includes riding demos, tons of hands-on activities, and a bikes obstacle course for kids. May is Bike Month, so grab your helmet and join us for a wheelie fun time!

• Kids under 12 encouraged to bring their own bikes and helmets for the obstacle course
• Reading of Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist, with author Lesa Cline-Ransome
• Cycling demos
• Bike building/fix-it clinics
• Jerry’s Tastee Freeze

*All persons on a bicycle must wear a helmet while on EcoTarium property* (A limited number of kids’ bikes and helmets will be available to borrow)

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Interactives Included in the Exhibition

Bicycles have come a long way since the days of bloomers and velocipedes. Whether you’re speeding down a mountain or touring the town, our legs provide the power, and science does the rest!

Centripetal Force Seat

Visitors take a seat on a rotating stool, spin a hand-held bicycle tire, and see how the rotational forces move them as they turn the tire from a vertical to a horizontal position.

Gear Table

For younger visitors, a simple table of magnetic gears allows them to experiment with simple interlocking mechanisms of their own making.

Helmet Aerodynamics

Visitors watch three shapes race through pearlized fluid, seeing which shape’s design is the most aerodynamic, as it relates to helmet design.

Tire Treads

Visitors make their own tread rubbings, as they study variation in tires for variations in sports and terrain.

Coatings/Color Match

Visitors try to identify stop sign from a set of nine samples, seeing how the brain recalls color. In an accompanying display, as series of high-tech coatings samples runs the gamut of color and finishes.

Color Mixing Bike

Visitors change the ratio of three colored lights, to change the apparent color of some miniature bikes, to see how the eye perceives color, and how colors in the visible spectrum work.

Hit the Brakes!

Visitors put on the brakes on this spinning disk, using three different pads to see how materials affect friction.

Bike Body Xylophone

A series of tubes of different materials is ‘played’ by the visitor as they explore why bikes can be made from so many alloys.

Square Wheels

A hand-held ‘bike’ with square wheels can smoothly traverse terrain made of ellipsoidal hemispheres.

Gear Power

A hand-cranked set of gears produces electrical power, as visitors learn about the transfer of mechanical energy.

Chalkboard (Non-interactive)

An old school chalkboard explains the mechanics of bicycles on one side, and the transfer of energy involved when a rider hits the trail – from the sun to food to you to the bike!