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read more » 31st Aug 2017 11:28
The Observatory Science Centre
East Sussex
BN27 1RN
Tel: 01323 832731
Fax: 01323 832741

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Outdoor Exhibits

Have fun exploring the large-scale interactive exhibits around the gardens and grounds of The Centre. 

Please note that the Discovery Park may be closed for health and safety reasons in poor weather or if the ground is water logged.   

Please also note that the Water Planet area is not available during the colder months of the winter season.

Discovery Park

The Discovery Park is a 'Science Playground' of large-scale interactive exhibits designed to help visitors explore themes of force, movement, genetics and sound, in a way that is always fully ‘hands-on', and sometimes ‘feet-on' too. There have been some well deserved refurbishments to the Discovery Park during 2013 and these will continue through 2014.

The exhibits are designed so you can either investigate them individually or get friends and family to help you.

There is something for everyone among the 17 exhibits, including a fascinating sculpture in the middle of the park! Is it Einstein or the world? It really depends on your perspective. The slap pipes exhibit is our latest addition to the Discovery Park; use the paddles to create some noise from the steel tubes and listen to the different notes obtained from the different length pipes. 

Please note that, all children require close supervision and adult assistance in the Discovery Park AT ALL TIMES. As an outdoor facility, the Discovery Park may not be open in all weathers for health and safety reasons.
Water Planet

The Water Planet area lets you explore our fascinating world of water and how we use it.

Over 70% of Earth is covered by water and we have found many different ways to use its power. The Water Circuit explores some of these methods combining three devices to lift water - a bucket chain, village pump and Archimedes' screw - with three more that spring into action as the water flows back down - a turbine, waterwheel and tipping buckets. You can operate devices which in some cases would have been familiar to your ancestors centuries ago.

The Water Play tanks let you do just this, play with water! Build dams, explore water pressure using pipes and connectors, see the patterns a fountain makes as you turn the taps on and off and create locks and canals.

The natural power of water as it progresses from streams to rivers to oceans is explored in the Erosion exhibit. Scoop up some sand and see the patterns formed as water flows around it.

Can you lift 680Kg of solid granite? Water can! Watch how the Granite Ball floats effortlessly on a thin frictionless cushion of water. The water pressure under the ball is about one tenth the pressure of a domestic tap but this is enough to lift the ball from its socket. The ball is so symmetrical that with very little effort you should be able to push it in any direction.  

Please note that the fog machine, water play tanks, granite ball and erosion are decomissioned during the colder months of the winter season in order to prevent the pipes freezing and splitting.
Listening for a whispered message Exploring Sound
(Sound Dishes and Lithophone)  

SOUND DISHES: A whispered message to a friend can be picked up loud and clear over 30 metres away!

Two large curved dishes are located at either end of the bottom lawn between Domes F and E. The curve is a parabola and acts like a giant reflector. A faint whisper spoken into the focus of one dish is magnified at the focus of the other making it easy to hear the message.

The parabolic shape of the dishes means all the sound waves bounced from one dish cross to the other dish where they are collected and converge towards the focus in phase. This means that the peaks and troughs of the waves are synchronised, working together to make the loudest possible sound vibrations. This way the sound is enhanced at the focus and you can clearly hear the message whispered into the opposite dish.
Parabolic reflectors are used in satellite dishes, reflecting telescopes, radio telescopes, spot lights and car head lights.

LITHOPHONE: Use the hammers to hit the stone bars. Can you play some Rock Music?

When you hit the bars you cause vibrations in the stone. For a rock to ring the grains within it must be packed tightly so that the vibrations pass from one grain to the next without losing much energy. If there are pores or spaces in the rock the sound is lost. This is why not all types of rock ring loud enough for us to hear.

The thickness and length of the stone bar influences the rate of vibration. All the stones are the same thickness but the longer the piece of stone the lower the pitch and the deeper the note.

The stone is Nero Assoluto, which is a type of ‘Black Granite’ and has a dense interlocking crystalline texture. Look for the crystals in the bars; they are fairly regular in size. It is an igneous rock formed from molten rock (magma). The crystals developed due to gradual, uniform cooling of the rock. Black granite is not granite at all because it contains little or no quartz. To be true granite the rock must contain at least 20% quartz which is a milky-white colour and would therefore not look very black.

People have been using rocks to make music throughout antiquity.
List of Permanent Outdoor Exhibits