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Whitaker Center
Serving our Community through
Education + Entertainment + Art

Discovery Labs

We have labs for students of all ages!




Capacity: 24 students per session  |  Length: 30 minutes

The Sound of Science

Where does sound come from and why can we hear it? Explore the science behind sound as we investigate the properties of sound, experiment with different methods for making sounds, and learn about how we hear sounds. Students will be amazed as they explore the sounds made by a variety of musical instruments from around the world.

(PA Early Learning Standards: 3.2b5; 3.2b7; 9.1a)

 It’s a Worm’s World

Examine nature’s ultimate recyclers in an up-close and personal way and discover what makes these seemingly simple creatures so important to our Earth. Students will handle and observe real, live worms as they investigate how worms react to a variety of situations and how these creatures are uniquely adapted to their environment.

(PA Early Learning Standards: 3.1a.3; 3.1a.5; 3.1a.8; 3.1.9)

 Sort It Out

Come and explore the world of attributes and patterns through sorting. Students create graphs and Venn diagrams using everyday objects from our treasure boxes.

(PA Academic Standards: CC.1.2; CC.1.3; CC.1.5; CC.2.1.1.B.1; CC.2.1.K.A.2; CC.2.1.K.A.3; CC.2.4.K.A.1; CC.2.4.K.A.4; CC.2.4.1.A.4)

GRADES 1 & 2

Capacity: 24 students per session  |  Length: 45 minutes

 Bug Me Not

What makes one insect a friend and another a pest? Students will simulate a variety of pest control techniques, discovering which eradication methods are the most ecologically and financially friendly but least labor intensive for farmers and gardeners alike.

(PA Academic Standards: 4.1.1.A; 4.1.1.C; 4.5.1.B; 4.5.1.C; 4.5.1.F; CC.1.5.1.B)

 Matter: It’s about Change

What’s the matter with matter… it’s always changing! Have a “blast” while examining the ever-changing world of solids, liquids, and gasses through a variety of hands-on explorations.

(PA Academic Standards: 3.2.1.A1; 3.2.1.A5; 3.2.1.A6; 3.2.2.A4)

 Seeds and Such

Investigate the science of seeds as we learn how seeds and fruits are linked in plant cycles. Students will dissect fruits, examine their seeds and use natural fruits as dyes to create their own Whitaker Center keepsake.

(PA Academic Standards: 3.1.1.A5; 3.1.1.A9; 3.1.2.A5).

 Playground Physics

Join us on a journey through the forces of motion as we uncover why playground equipment is so fun to use. Explore how matter moves, experiment with the property of inertia, and observe the physical forces of gravity and friction in this exciting investigation.

(PA Academic Standards: 3.2.1.B1; 3.2.1.B7; 3.3.6.B1)

 Windows on Weather

Unlock the mysteries behind weather phenomena including: Where does wind come from? Why do rainbows form? Why do some clouds look different than others? What is lightning? What must happen for a tornado to form?

(PA Academic Standards: 3.2.1.B5; 3.2.1.B6; 3.2.2.B2; 3.3.1.A5; 3.3.1.A7; 4.2.1.A; 4.3.1.B)

GRADES 3 to 5

Capacity: 36 students per session  |  Length: 45 minutes

Bridging the Gaps

What makes a bridge strong and safe? After learning about the three basic types of bridges, students use K’NEX® to build and modify a beam bridge and conduct load tests on it. Will the bridge hold up under the stress?

(PA Academic Standards: 3.4.3.C3; 3.4.4.A2; 3.4.4.C3; 3.4.4.D1)

 Chemistry Concoctions

Investigate basic chemistry concepts in this exciting and engaging lab. Students perform experiments demonstrating the differences between physical and chemical changes and how to determine whether a substance is an acid or a base.

(PA Academic Standards: 3.1.3.A9; 3.2.3.A1; 3.2.3.A2; 3.2.3.A4; 3.2.4.A1; 3.2.4.A2; 3.2.4.A4; 3.2.5.A6)

 Circuit Circus

Get “turned-on” to electricity in this charged-up, battery-operated festival of circuit building. Students explore open and closed circuits, use hand-held data collection systems to collect real-time data, and compare group results with others in the lab.

(PA Academic Standards: 2.6.5B; 3.2.3.B4; 3.2.4.B4; 3.2.5.B7; 3.4.3.D2; 3.4.4.A2; 3.4.4.D2)

 Forensic Frenzy

Someone has stolen the formula for Solution X—thought to be the cure for the common cold – from a pharmaceutical laboratory. Students use a variety of forensic science techniques to examine evidence and solve the crime – a real Whodunit!

(PA Academic Standards: 3.1.6.A9; 3.1.7.B1; 3.1.10.B2; 3.2.6.A5; 3.2.8.A6; 3.4.6.A2)

 It’s Probable

Move from wild guesses to educated predictions in this fun introduction to probability and statistics. Students will play probability games and learn that sometimes the odds are stacked against you!

(PA Academic Standards: 2.7.3.A; 2.7.3.B; 2.7.3.C; 2.7.3.D)

 Pollution Solutions

What happens when pollutants enter a watershed? Students work in teams to “pollute” a model watershed and see what happens to the local water source. Finally, teams discover the impact that waste, runoff, and pollutants have on the life within and ecosystem as they work together solve a mystery.

(PA Academic Standards: 3.1.4.A1; 3.1.4.A2; 3.1.4.A3; 3.1.4.A5; 3.1.4.A8; 3.1.4.A9; 4.1.4.A; 4.1.4.B; 4.1.4.C; 4.1.4.E; 4.1.4.F; 4.2.4.A; 4.2.4.B; 4.2.4.C; 4.5.4.A; 4.5.4.C; 4.5.4.D; 4.5.4.E; 4.5.4.F)


GRADES 6 to 8

Capacity: 36 students per session  |  Length: 45 minutes 

Disease Detectives

A contagious disease outbreak has just occurred and only you can stop it. Students employ techniques similar to those used by epidemiologists to unravel the mystery and stop the disease before an epidemic gets out of control. Will they uncover the path of transmission and break the chain of infection before time runs out?

(PA Academic Standards: 2.6.7.E; 3.1.6.A4; 3.1.7.A1; 3.1.7.A5; 3.1.7.A9; 3.4.7.B1)

 Trembles & Quakes

Go beyond the basics of plate tectonics in this examination of earthquakes and their destruction and power. Assess a variety of earthquake-resistant engineering design techniques and uncover the common attributes of the more resilient structures. Student teams design and construct a model of an earthquake-proof building then test its stability on an earthquake-simulation table.

(PA Academic Standards: 3.3.10.A1; 3.3.10.A8; 3.4.6.C2; 3.4.7.C2; 3.4.7.E7; 3.4.8.A3; 3.4.8.D1)

 Tantalizing Tessellations

Does your polygon tessellate? A tessellation is a two-dimensional tiling of geometric shapes with no gaps or spaces and is an example of how math and art intersect to create tantalizing visual images. Students experiment with a variety of patterns using regular and irregular polygons to unlock the mathematical secrets behind what will and will not tessellate. Once the secret is out, students will make a closed-polygon shape and create a tessellation that is uniquely their own.

(PA Academic Standards: 3.2.6.A6; 2.9.6.A; CC.2.3.7.A.2; CC.2.3.8.A2)

 Whooo’s for Dinner?

What makes a bird a successful hunter? Discover the tools and amazing adaptations used by birds of prey while exploring the similarities and differences among various species. Dissect an owl pellet to discover who was for dinner and then take home the leftovers!

(PA Academic Standards: 3.1.6.A1; 3.1.6.A5; 3.1.7.A2; 3.1.8.A8; 3.1.7.B5; 3.1.7.C1)


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