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Science + You, a groundbreaking interactive children’s exhibit presented in conjunction with scientists at AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company, opened Sept. 17 at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate.

Sponsored by the AbbVie Foundation, the 1,200 square-foot Science + You exhibit features a child-sized laboratory where children can explore how scientists impact health and wellness. Through hands-on, interactive machinery, processes and technology, Science + You establishes the role science plays in keeping the body healthy. A demonstration area of the exhibit will allow guest scientists and educators to perform fun and interactive scientific experiments appropriate for young children.

“Given the immense praise Science + You has received both nationally and internationally, we are thrilled that TCMU’s guests will have the opportunity to experience it,” said Nancy Halverson, president and CEO of TCMU.

She said the exhibit sparks children’s curiosity and interest in the world of science, and said, “with the exhibit’s interactive activities and engaging play area, we hope to communicate how science impacts our world and our bodies.”

The exhibit allows children to become young scientists, said Tracie Haas, divisional vice president for corporate responsibility at AbbVie.

“Using the hands-on tools, machines and processes in the exhibit will give museum visitors a better understanding of how scientists work, which will hopefully inspire an interest in science and the pursuit of future science careers,” she said.

Entering the exhibit

Children will enter the exhibit as if entering a real-life laboratory. At the first station they can pretend to wash their hands and then wipe their feet on a special gel-like floor mat that changes colors to represent the dirt particles it is removing. Children can even walk through a pretend shower to be bathed in blue lights before they put on their white lab coat. Graphics will communicate how important it is for scientists to work in a clean environment.

Antibodies

Demonstrating how antibodies act in the body, this component of the exhibit offers children the opportunity to understand a complex bodily process through play. A clear Plexiglas structure is filled with magnetic balls that represent “germs” in the body. Four stations outside the structure include a moveable antibody that children can use to manipulate germs. Children use the antibodies to collect the germs within the structure and move them to the “white blood cell” tube. Once the germs have been transferred into the white blood cell tube, they are dropped into a hopper. When all the germs are collected in the hopper the activity is complete and the body deemed healthy. The germs are dropped back into the center of the structure and the activity begins again. A video also demonstrates how real antibodies in the body collect germs and feed them to white blood cells.

Glovebox

Children can use a glovebox, a sealed container used by real-life scientists, with gloves built into the sides allowing one to manipulate objects safely. Demonstrating how scientists use a glovebox to contain materials as well as protect themselves, the children will wear thick gloves to measure substances using beakers, funnels and other lab equipment.

Mixing and separating test lab

Exploring how scientists use machines to mix liquids and solids, this section of the exhibit demonstrates how different types of scientific lab equipment function. Children can see the machines in action and can also manually mix and separate liquids and solids themselves.

Magnification area

This exhibit features a specialized Wentzscope and video microscopes that magnify objects on a large video screen, allowing younger children to compare and contrast an array of natural and man-made items up close.

Healthy lifestyle

Science has shown us that we need a balanced lifestyle to stay healthy. This exhibit component emphasizes the importance of nutrition, exercise and rest with an interactive activity. The exhibit features an outline of a human body with a hollow center. Children place puzzle pieces representing various forms of nutrition, exercise and rest in different areas of the body. When a healthy balance of all the components is achieved, children hear a congratulatory message. The exhibit promotes being active in a variety of ways, from traditional exercise such as riding a bike, to common activities such as cleaning the house, doing the dishes or walking to school.

Test kitchen

In the test kitchen children will make a ‘healthy soup’ choosing their own combination of appropriate ingredients. Teaching children the importance of a balanced diet, this exhibit has stations with soup pots that can hold up to six ingredients. Children pick the ingredients from the five food groups. The burner under their soup pot lights up when they’ve selected the correct balance of healthy ingredients.

Science reflection

Children can share their scientific thoughts and reflections after experiencing in the exhibit. A variety of images, drawings and terminology from the exhibit is provided that children can use to create their own collage. A display wall allows children to share their collage reflection with the public. Grease pencils will also be provided for children to write down their impressions.

Located in downtown Greenville on the cultural campus of Heritage Green, TCMU houses 19 exhibit galleries with more than 100 individual exhibit components that offer a continuum of programming in the areas of arts, humanities, sciences, health, nutrition and the environment. At 80,000 square feet, TCMU is the nation's seventh-largest children's museum and 10th largest in the world. As the nation's first children's museum to become a Smithsonian Affiliate, there are programs developed for every age level to stimulate creativity and stir the imagination.

For more information, visit www.tcmupstate.org.

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