Second Science Night Live sparks up interest in Topeka

The view from atop the Westar truck when the lift was fully extended was staggering and not for the faint of heart.

Colton Goeffert

The second ever occurrence of Science Night Live happened June 11 at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center. The monthly event is a way for adults to add a little science to their life while enjoying food and drink, as well as supporting the Discovery Center itself. The theme for July’s Science Night Live was “The Science of Electricity” and featured quite a few more exhibits than the previous month’s event.

Among these exhibits was a demonstration of the dangers of electricity, which was presented by Westar Energy. Westar also brought in one of their trucks complete with elevated work platform. Visitors to the event were allowed to go up in the elevated platform, after equipping a safety harness, for a complete view of the Discovery Center grounds. In addition to Westar’s exhibits, there were also discussions on the topic of Thomas Edison versus Nicola Tesla, the two rivals behind modern electricity. There were also many experiments using electricity.

“So far my favorite activity has been using the electricity ball and the lightbulbs,” said Tiffany Burton, a 33-year-old dispatcher at Payless Shoesource, in reference to an experiment in which patrons would touch a plasma ball while holding a neon light tube and the tube would light up due to the electricity traveling through the participant.

Other experiments included the classic lemon battery created using a lemon, a copper penny and a zinc nail, which was being used to power a small watch and a homemade light bulb that used a graphite mechanical pencil lead as a filament. As the carbon content is said graphite is similar to the carbon Edison introduced into the cotton filament of the first light bulbs.

“I really like seeing how we can make every day items into light bulbs, it’s just very interesting,” said Krystal Harry, a Washburn senior music education major who was working at the event. “My favorite part was seeing how the lemons can activate a clock.”

In addition to science, food and drink were also available. As a part of the $15 admission fee, two drink tickets were included and could be redeemed for one of a large selection of beers. Mixed drinks were also available for purchase at an additional fee. Popcorn and pretzels were available for free, but for those looking for a more filling alternative, a taco truck was parked outside the Discovery Center and offered authentic Mexican cuisine for a reasonable price.

In the end, Science Night Live grew quite a bit in the month between the first and second events. There was more staff, more food, more exhibits, a live band, as well as all the normal Discovery Center’s children’s exhibits being open to adults. The event looks like it will continue to grow as well, with next month’s theme being “The Science of CSI Forensics.”