Discovery Center

Choose which exhibit you want to explore!

Temporary Exhibit

“Hot Wheels Race to Win” at Discovery Park of America

Aug. 30, 2019 to Jan. 5, 2020.
Sponsored by WLJT.

Racing fans know a lot about their sport—the cars, the drivers, the owners, the teams. But each race is the end point of a long process of design, development, testing and re-testing of cutting-edge technology that results in the fastest, safest and most precisely engineered vehicles in the world.

This exhibit coming to DPA in Aug. 2019 explores the behind-the-scenes process that race fans, young and old, may never have encountered before. Guests will experience a dynamic testing environment participating in a quest for cars of record-breaking speed, precision and design.

In addition to being fun and immersive, the exhibit also supports STEM learning goals and provides rich opportunities for learning as students discuss and experiment with all aspects of racing design.

Teachers and Parents: Download the Educator’s Guide for “Hot Wheels: Race to Win” for help with STEM concepts, big ideas and main messages for this exhibit.

Key STEM concepts presented in the exhibit:

Engineering/Design Engine Physics
• Car body design/aerodynamics
• Track design/drag and friction
• Mechanical Function
• Defining combustion and identifying units of measure for power
Physics of Motion Mathematics
• Drag and friction
• Lift/drag/downforce
• Newton‘s laws
• Acceleration
• Speed/curve calculation for cars on track
• Timing calculation for cars maneuvering on track

“Astronaut” at Discovery Park of America

Jan. 17 – May 3, 2020

There’s no other job where you can find yourself quite as far above the Earth as that of an astronaut. From the Moon landings to the Mars One project to the Space Shuttle, astronauts have become synonymous with adventure, exploration and endeavor. Through hands-on and full-body displays, this STEM-focused science exhibition investigates the reality of what it takes to be a space explorer. Twenty-six stations relay the physical and psychological effects of living in microgravity on the human body and the technology used to complete a mission. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to sleep, eat and shower in space, “Astronaut” gives you the opportunity to find out.

The exhibition also focuses on teamwork, problem solving, accurately performing tasks and overcoming challenges such as communicating with mission control, monitoring damage to your space craft or landing a capsule. You will leave the exhibit having discovered what it takes to be an astronaut and having experienced first-hand the science of space exploration.

Students: $4.95
Adults: $6.95

Check out the school and visitor’s guide.

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Children's Exploration

Activity and hands-on stations are abundant in this gallery for children, sponsored by Simmons Bank. Children can enjoy a “water works” area featuring experiments with geysers and whirlpools while learning about physical properties of liquids. Other activity stations feature the human senses of sight and smell as well as an architectural section which allows creativity in building structures. Special sections for small children include our “ripple pond” for infants and the “fantasy forest” for toddlers. Visitors of all ages will be delighted to enter a 48-ft. sculptural human figure on the upper level where they can take in the sights of the Grand Hall before sliding down the leg of the human figure to the entry level floor.

For safety reasons, children must be three feet tall to slide down the giant human slide.

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Energy

Interaction is the focus of this gallery, which contains a 20-foot model of a generator that converts energy into electricity. Activity stations surround the generator and allow visitors to use their own muscle to turn turbines, which illuminate the tower in bands of light. Solar, fuel, and heat exhibits highlight uses for these alternative energy sources.

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enlightenment

Enter this mysterious gallery through a bookcase door to view a unique and eclectic mix of artifacts from local and foreign lands. Cast in a faint blue light, this versatile gallery features a piece of sunken treasure, musical instruments, and African artifacts. A suit of armor is on display, as well as a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.

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Military

Since the nation declared independence and achieved it with military force, war has affected almost every person in the United States. This gallery exhibits many examples of military equipment, both U.S. and foreign, as well as life in the military. The Civil War is featured with a replica of an ironclad that operated on the nearby Mississippi River. A PT-17 Stearman airplane from WWII is suspended in the south atrium as a tribute to the hundreds of pilots who received their flight training at a nearby military airfield. Several videos record the military experience of area service personnel.

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Native Americans

An Ice Age woolly mammoth greets visitors as they begin a journey through exhibits with many taxidermy specimens and period objects. A hologram displays a mythical figure recounting Native American legends and beliefs. An animated map displays possible routes the first people in America may have taken, and visitors can walk through the chronology of five Native America cultures: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian, and Historic.

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Natural History

Several large dinosaurs and a large illuminated projection globe are the focal points of this gallery. A huge Apatosaurus greets visitors as they descend the escalator and other large specimens, including a T-Rex, wait on the lower level. The projection globe can display the earth’s past and current internal and external geologic processes. Surrounding exhibits represent different time periods, beginning with the Paleozoic Era, which features fossils and recreations of the underwater world that was once the nation’s heartland. Visitors can explore the Mesozoic Era with dinosaurs before concluding their walk through the Cenozoic Era, which depicts animals through the glacial environments of this period.

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Regional History

With a focus on water and regional aquatic life, many aquariums and terrariums are on display, including a 20,000-gallon aquarium that features living creatures from Reelfoot Lake, such as gar, bass, crappie, and turtles. However, the greatest thrill in this gallery is in the simulation theater where visitors can “enjoy” an earthquake with a 270-degree viewing experience and special effects, complete with sounds and tremors, similar to those that shook this area in the formation of Reelfoot Lake 200 years ago. Life in this region is portrayed with many regional artifacts, as well as videos of residents recounting their experiences in the area, including American legend David Crockett.

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Science, Space & Technology

Take a trip through the universe in our “interactive starship theater” with a 160-degree dome screen that allows visitors to launch a spaceship from Earth and steer it through the planets and stars. The technology showcase includes a working replica of the Gutenberg printing press and other innovations that link past communications technology to the present. Exhibits answer many questions about our universe, including moon phases and meteorites, and feature live images of “our star” from a NASA solar scope.

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Transportation

Visitors can enjoy a showcase featuring 60 years of the American automobile. Exhibits include period objects and displays and walk-through exhibits of early cars such as the Model T, luxury cars including W.C. Fields’ 1938 Cadillac Fleetwood Limousine, and three race cars, one of which is the NASCAR 2007 Chevy Budweiser #8.

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