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Science center challenges young engineers

This article appeared in the November 11, 2011 edition of the Davis Enterprise

By Lisa Justice
Special to the Enterprise

Explorit Science Center will open its doors for an extra three days this month in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday.  We invite you to join us for some science fun on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, November 21-23, from 1:00-5:00pm.

Come check out our Forces of Nature exhibit by sending a ball for a spin at our spin table or discovering what stars are made of in our astronomy corner.  And don’t forget to stop by our Challenge Center to test your construction creativity.

The Challenge Center has been a favorite part of Explorit’s exhibits for years.  In the Challenge Center visitors use recycled materials such as toilet paper rolls, yogurt cups and milk bottle caps to engineer creative and functional designs.

Equipped only with masking tape, scissors and their imaginations, visitors design, test and modify engineering marvels from bridges to vehicles.

Each month Explorit posts a new challenge to tackle, but visitors are also welcome to try out their own designs.  November’s challenge is to build a catapult that can launch a crumpled up piece of paper across the room.

To aid budding engineers, the Challenge Center is equipped with a white board and markers for drafting plans and plenty of floor space for testing your invention.  Currently the Challenge Center’s floor is marked at one-foot intervals so catapult designers can see how far their device will launch a paper ball.

Once your catapult is constructed, challenge a friend to a distance contest.  Whose catapult can throw the farthest? 

Or see if you can make your catapult mobile.  Can you design a truck or trailer to pull it around?

Admission to the Challenge Center is free with your paid admission to the museum, and you can keep whatever you build.

The recycled materials that fuel the Challenge Center are provided by Explorit’s friends in the community.  If you would like to contribute to the Challenge Center’s supplies, just collect recyclables at home and drop them off at Explorit during our business hours, 9-4:30 Tuesday to Friday.

Challenge Center supplies must be thoroughly clean and ready to use.  We always need the cardboard tubes from toilet paper or paper towels, small plastic cups like yogurt containers, plastic lids, cracker boxes and strawberry baskets.

Kinetic sculpture artist Theo Jansen once said “the walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.”  Visit Explorit’s Challenge Center to tear down those walls and build something magnificent.

The Challenge Center will be open along with all the rest of Explorit’s Forces of Nature exhibit Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, November 21-23, 1:00-5:00pm.  Like us on Facebook to share your construction plans or post a picture of your design after your visit to the Challenge Center.

Explorit’s coming events:

• Explorit’s newest Exhibition, “Forces of Nature” is open the first full weekend, Saturday and Sunday, of every month from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  This exhibition welcomes the public back to our 3141 5th Street Nature Center and will feature some of the best of Explorit’s past exhibits.

Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. and is open to the public every first full weekend of the month.  For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit, or “like” us on Facebook at

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