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Boop vs. the Quantum Realm

Hi! It’s me, Boop! I’m back! Did you miss me? I missed me. I accidentally fell into Discovery World’s matter transporter. Something went wrong, and I got stuck in the Quantum Realm. Yes, that’s a real place, though the words “real” and “place” are entirely subjective in… the Quantum Realm. Time is meaningless. Cause and effect are meaningless. Meaning has no meaning in… the Quantum Realm.  Fortunately, the Aquarists were able to repair the matter transporter and bring me back. They’re so great.

The Quantum Realm is very strange. Did you know that there are no mealworms in the Quantum Realm? That was incredibly weird. There is no food of any kind in the Quantum Realm. There is only weirdness. I can’t eat weirdness, so I was very hungry when I got back.

My experience in the Quantum Realm got me thinking. If you’re like me, you’ve spent entire minutes – maybe even hours – pondering things like subatomic particles, quantum mechanics, and the fundamental nature of reality. Maybe you’ve wondered what it would be like to travel to the Quantum Realm like the Avengers and I did. (To be fair, the Avengers are fictional characters whereas I am a totally real turtle who blogs about my totally real and not-at-all-made-up adventures.)

Maybe you’ve picked up books like Something Deeply Hidden by Sean Carroll or How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog, by Chad Orzel. Maybe you’ve read Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew About Quantum Physics Is Different, by Philip Ball.

Maybe you’ve wondered whether the Copenhagen or Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is correct or what electrons really are or how the Higgs field works or what empty space is made of. There are so many things to wonder about!

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to understand what I saw while I was trapped in the Quantum Realm. I understand it now. I UNDERSTAND THE FUNDAMENTAL NATURE OF REALITY! I promise that by the time we’re done here, you’ll understand everything, too. You’ll understand how our reality emerges from quantum field interactions. You’ll understand things like the Hamiltonian, anti-de Sitter space, Hilbert space, the wave function, octonions, superposition, Schrodinger’s Cat, and what an electron really is. I am even going to explain (because I totally get it now) quantum gravity.

Ha! Just kidding. I am completely and utterly baffled. I’m even more baffled than when I started. I mean, I thought I knew things, but I now I’m not even sure that I know what I know, you know? My hope is that by the end of this, you’ll be baffled, too! Maybe your bafflement and my bafflement will become entangled until we observe it and our wave functions collapse.

Or maybe you won’t be baffled. Maybe you’ll be simultaneously baffled and un-baffled. Maybe you’ll be baffled in this universe but completely un-baffled in an entirely other universe. Anything is possible. Except when you measure it. Then only one thing is possible. Or maybe that’s not even true. I HAVE NO IDEA!

Also, and I mean this with complete humility (an odd feeling for me), it is entirely possible that everything here is wrong. I AM OKAY WITH THIS. It just means that I have more to learn, and that’s exciting! It’s also sort of fun being this confused. I remain undaunted, of course. Turtles are never daunted.

Let’s start with the word quantum. I didn’t know this, but quantum doesn’t mean “really small” or “subatomic”. It means a discrete quantity of something. So a Quantum of Solace is a discrete quantity of solace. A Quantum Leap is a discrete quantity of leap.

I didn’t know this either – at least I think I didn’t know this – but turtles like me are made of atoms. Humans are made of atoms, too. What else is made of atoms? Trees, rocks, air, hamburgers, and water. And that’s probably it. I’m kidding! It turns out that atoms make up everything, which is why you should never trust them. Ha! I love that joke. It’s funny because it’s true. I know because I have traveled to… the Quantum Realm. Sorry, I’m trying to turn my adventure into an award-winning HBO series about a turtle who accidentally falls into a matter transporter and travels to… the Quantum Realm. I need a show runner. Anyone know a show runner?

Anyway, atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons (except for hydrogen atoms, which don’t have any neutrons).

Here’s something fun that I didn’t know. Remember how we learned that matter is mostly empty space? Well, THAT IS ALL LIES! EMPTY SPACE IS NOT EMPTY!

Take a small bit of so-called “empty space” – a cubic centimeter or cubic millimeter – and zoom in. Further. Further than that. Even further. Keep going. You’re almost there. Wait, no. I lied. You’re not even close. Keep zooming in. A bit more. Keep going. Whoa, was that a stray hydrogen atom? What’s that doing here? It’s huge! And… keep going. Zoom in. Further. Even further. Keep going. A little bit more. Keep going. A bit more. Even more. And… stop. You’ve zoomed in a lot. A lot a lot. You are looking at an incredibly tiny chunk of space called the Planck length.

A Planck length is the distance that light travels in one unit of Planck time. As definitions go, THIS IS NOT HELPFUL. One unit of Planck time is incredibly short, so a Planck length is incredibly small. It’s the smallest distance of space that we can meaningfully measure.

Instead of nothing, which is what you’d expect to see while looking at something called empty space, you see weird bits of things that seem to bubble up out of nowhere and transform and disappear into nowhere over and over again. I found out later that these bubbling weird bits of things that change and disappear are called virtual particles. They’re real, but they’re called virtual particles.

The next thing I discovered is that subatomic particles like electrons are not what you think they are. Actually, I have no idea what you think electrons are. You might think electrons are negatively-charged, strawberry-scented, orange unicorns. I mean, you probably don’t think that. I don’t think that either. I didn’t think that before, and that’s not what I saw in my journey through… the Quantum Realm. (Last one, I promise.) Honestly, I’m not sure what I saw. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if electrons turned out to be negatively-charged, strawberry-scented, orange unicorns. I mean, they’re probably not, but I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S REAL ANYMORE!

I used to think that electrons were those negatively-charged particles that orbited the nuclei of atoms. They don’t orbit. They exist as clouds of probably located somewhere around atoms. There are plenty of free electrons, too.

As you probably know, electrons are elementary particles. They’re not made of other things. Protons are not fundamental particles. They’re made of smaller particles called quarks. Protons are made of three quarks (two up, one down) that are held together by gluons. Gluons are particles that “mediate the strong force between quarks”.

Electrons are also fermions, a group of subatomic particles that have mass (Hello, Higgs field!) and, generally speaking, make up stuff. Some particles are bosons, which don’t have mass. Gauge bosons (a special type of boson) carry or mediate different forces. Gluons are gauge bosons. Photons are gauge bosons, too, and they mediate the electromagnetic force (light). Light is emitted by vibrating electrons.

Subatomic particles like electrons are not at all like the macroscale particles – specks of dust, grains of sand, baseballs, etc. – that you and I encounter every day. A baseball has properties like mass, size, and shape that we can easily measure. If we throw a ball, we can measure its trajectory. We know where it is and how fast it is going. We can calculate its velocity, kinetic energy, and its momentum. We can make an incredibly accurate prediction about where it will land.

Electrons are not like that. Electrons don’t even have a size. They have a tiny bit of mass, but no size. They’re a zero-dimensional bit of negatively charged fuzzy stuff that is neither fuzzy nor stuff. And this description is probably at least mostly wrong.

Sometimes electrons act like particles. Sometimes they act like waves. It depends on if you look. It does not, or might not, depend on when you look.

Is it a Particle? Is it a Wave? It’s it Both? 

There is a very famous experiment called the double-slit experiment. You’ve probably heard of it. The first version of it was conducted in 1801 by Thomas Young. For a long time before that, scientists thought that light was made of tiny, tiny particles. Young’s experiment demonstrated that light is made of different waves. Leonhard Euler worked out some of the math to verify that light was waves, and his work was expanded on by Fresnel (the lens guy) and Poisson (the distribution guy). One challenge was that unlike sound waves, light waves don’t need to travel through a medium, but scientists back then didn’t know that. See “aether, luminiferous”. Then Faraday and Maxwell did their thing, and the “light is particles” idea was pretty much over. Until it wasn’t.

In the early 1900s, Max Planck was experimenting with electromagnetic radiation (light), and he noticed that his math only made sense if he treated the light waves as discrete packets or chunks. At first, this was just a kind of mathematical fudge. But Einstein took it seriously and incorporated into his description of the photoelectric effect.

So light was a particle. Then it was a wave. Then it was a particle again. Scientists were confused. Scientists love a big, juicy conundrum, so they designed new and better versions of the double-slit experiment. It works with photons. It works with electrons.  Scientists are still designing new and better versions of the double-slit experiment!

If you fire a beam of electrons at a barrier with very narrow slit cut in it, some of those electrons will bounce off the barrier. Some will go through the slit. Now let’s say you put a special, coated screen at the back. Every time an electron smacks into the screen, it leaves a bright little dot.

After a lot of electrons strike the screen, you get a clumpy, bright line on the screen. One clumpy line from a whole lot of electrons slamming into the screen. With one slit, the electrons absolutely behave like particles.

Now you cut a second slit in the barrier. When you fire the beam of electrons, you don’t get two clumpy lines on the screen, which is what you would expect if electrons were particles. Instead, you get five or seven or more clumpy lines interrupted by dark bands of, well, nothing. You get the signature interference pattern of a wave. What seems to happen is that some of the electron waves combined to become stronger (constructive interference). Those are the bright clumpy lines you see. Some of the electron waves canceled each other out (destructive interference). Those are the dark bands in between.

Okay. Maybe the electrons weren’t really acting like waves. Maybe they interfered with each other. Maybe they collided and bounced around or something. So you try the experiment again. This time you fire electrons at the screen one at a time. You give an electron time to hit the screen before you fire the next one. At the end of the experiment you still get the five or seven or more bright lines that indicate the interference pattern of waves.

An interference pattern would not happen if you did the double-slit experiment with macroscopic particles like paintballs or spherical turtles in a vacuum or something. Paintballs would not leave an interference pattern on the screen. I was going to try this with Beep and the other Discovery World turtles, but they refused to let me cover them in paint and fire them through a slit onto a screen.

But electrons are not turtles or paintballs, and they do create an interference pattern. Here’s where it gets a slightly weird.

You do some math, and you figure out that the wavy electrons seem to go through one slit, the other slit, both slits, and none of the slits all at the same time. That doesn’t make any sense, so you run the experiment again.

This time you place a detector in front of one of the slits. The detector’s job is to, well, detect which slit an electron passes through. You run the experiment again. This time you don’t get an interference pattern. You get two lines of impressions, a clumping pattern. This time the electrons acted like particles, and the only difference is that you were watching. It’s almost as if the electrons “knew” that you were watching, so they chose to act like particles. Their wave behavior or wave function disappeared.

So if you don’t measure or observe the electrons, they act like waves. If you do measure or observe the electrons, they act like particles. But what does measuring or observing or any kind of interaction have to do with anything? How can subatomic particles “know” they’re being watched? How can subatomic particles make choices? I HAVE NO IDEA! For even more on wave-particle duality see: “delayed-choice quantum eraser, the”. It’s a wildly complicated and clever version of the double-slit experiment that seems to imply retrocausality, but probably doesn’t, though maybe it does. It depends on who you ask.

The Wave Function

Electrons and other particles like photons have what is called a wave function. Everything has a wave function. You have a wave function, but your wave function is incredibly tiny because you are a large object. Wait, was that rude? Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. What I mean is that you are bigger than an electron.

The wave function is a mathematical description of the probabilities of what you can know about a quantum system. I think that last sentence is at least somewhat true.

What’s In the Box?

An electron. You put it there. Electrons move around a lot, so you don’t know precisely where the electron is. It has to be somewhere. The problem is that at any given moment, the electron could be anywhere. It might even be outside the box. You’d think it would be in the box because you put it in the box, but it might not be in the box. It’s more likely to be in some places (the box) than others (outside of the box). There’s even a small but non-zero chance that it’s on the other side of the Universe. The point is that you can’t predict where it is. You can only calculate (using the Schrödinger equation) where it might be. For all intents and purposes (or intensive porpoises), your electron is everywhere until you make a measurement.

Once you make a measurement and find out where the electron is, the wave function collapses. The probability of it being anywhere becomes 0, while the probability of it being where you found it is 1.

Entanglement

Electrons and other particles can also become entangled, which means that their quantum states are connected and they share a wave function.

With the right equipment, you can produce an entangled pair of electrons. Let’s say you have two entangled electrons. Their total spin needs to equal zero because of the Law of Conservation of Momentum.

(Electrons don’t really spin. Electrons have something called “intrinsic angular momentum”, which isn’t spin, but it is enough like spin that scientists call it spin even though it’s not like the spinning we normally associate with actual spinning things like wheels and gyroscopes and the Earth.)

If Electron A is in a state called spin down, Electron B will be in a state of spin up. Of course, the opposite could be true. You don’t know unless you make a measurement. And until you make a measurement, your entangled electrons don’t know either. They are in a state of being both spin up and spin down at the same time. This is called superposition. For more on superposition, see: “Cat, Schrödinger’s”. Physicists have also demonstrated superposition on things that are larger than electrons, including, I think, viruses.

After you make a measurement to determine the spin of Electron A, you know the spin of Electron B. This information is shared instantaneously by the entangled particles no matter how far apart Electrons A and B are. They could be on opposite sides of a lab, the Earth, the solar system, or the Universe. This is a bit of a head-scratcher because information isn’t supposed to travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum.

Some physicists don’t think there’s anything all that puzzling about any of this. Two entangled particles share a wave function. Measurement affects that wave function. Entangled particles don’t contain any hidden information. Everything is fine. Entangled particles do seem to communicate faster than light, but nothing violates Einstein’s Special Relativity because we cannot use entanglement to send information faster than light.

Let’s say you entangle a pair of electrons. Before you make a measurement, you send one of the entangled particles to a scientist friend in Japan. Then you make a measurement on the other. Remember that you don’t know what the measurement of your particle will be. It could be spin up. It could be spin down. It’s something of a coin flip. Your scientist friend in Japan doesn’t know either. You make your measurement. Your particle is spin up. You call and tell your scientist friend. She makes her measurement and confirms that her particle is spin down. She calls you back and tells you. The particles “chose” their state the instant you made your measurement, but the information about their state took a lot longer to get from you to your friend and back. Even if you had a detector that would send an automatic electronic “spin up” signal all the way to your friend’s lab in Japan, it would still take a little bit of time to get there. So even though the entangled particles “know” their state instantaneously, you don’t.

“Okay,” you might reasonably ask, “entanglement is neat and all, but how is this remotely useful?” Well, quantum computers rely on the entanglement and superposition of quantum bits or qubits.

And recently-ish (and this is cool), a group of researchers led by Dr. Gabriela Barreto Lemos in Anton Zeilinger’s laboratory at the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology took a photograph of an object using entangled photons as the source of light.

That doesn’t sound terribly amazing. You point a camera at an object, something adorable like a three-toed box turtle. Photons (light from a source like the sun or a light bulb or whatever) bounce off the object. You press the button, the electronic shutter opens, and some of that light finds its way into the camera. You get an image of the object. It all sounds perfectly ordinary, right?

Here’s the amazing part. Lemos and her team took an image using entangled photons. Let’s say for the sake of oversimplification that the team produced two groups of photons – an ‘A’ group and a ‘B’ group. Each photon in the ‘A’ group was entangled with a photon in the ‘B’ group. The researchers bounced all the ‘A’ photons off an object. The actual image of the object, however, was produced with the ‘B’ photons. The ‘B’ photons didn’t go anywhere near the object. Lemos and her team took a photograph of an object with light that hadn’t touched the object, hadn’t even been near the object. However, this light was entangled with other light that did. And that is a least slightly bananas.

Speaking of bananas, did you know that bananas sometimes emit anti-matter? It’s true. Bananas emit a positron (the positively charged anti-particle of the electron) every hour and fifteen minutes or so. All bananas have a small amount of radioactive potassium-40 in them. An incredibly small amount. (Bananas are safe. I love bananas. Beep and I eat bananas all the time. We don’t glow in the dark or anything.) As the potassium-40 decays, it releases a positron. Not all the time, but once in a while. The positron is immediately annihilated when it comes into contact with an ordinary electron. Where was I going with this? Oh! The point is that all subatomic particles have their own antiparticle. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Photons are their own anti-particle.

Ernst Stueckelberg and Richard Feynman took a look at something called the negative-energy solutions of the Dirac equation and figured out that if you squinted a bit (mathematically speaking), you could see that electrons would have a positive charge if they were moving backward through time.

I didn’t see that when I was in the Quantum Realm, though I’m not sure how to tell if something like a subatomic particle is moving forward or backward through time. Especially because I wasn’t sure what I was looking at to begin with. Anyway, Stueckelberg and Feynman concluded that positrons might just be electrons moving backward in time. Don’t worry, it gets weirder.

Archibald Wheeler thought that because all electrons are identical (and apparently they are really, really identical), all electrons are just the same electron everywhere all at once. If I didn’t know better, and I don’t, I’d say that sounds more like a field (electromagnetic, gravitational, Higgs, etc.) than a particle. That’s just a guess. I’m a turtle, not a scientist. I have no idea what I’m talking about.

So all electrons might be the same electron that is somehow everywhere at every moment. And all positrons could be that same electron everywhere at every moment, but moving backward in time. Wheee!

Okay, my brain hurts now. It could be a side effect of my journey through the Quantum Realm. Or maybe I’m not used to thinking this much. And all of this so much more wonderful and interesting and complicated than I’ve turtlesplained here.

My apologies, but you’ll still have to wonder whether the Copenhagen or Many Worlds interpretation (or one of the many other interpretations) of quantum mechanics is correct. I have no idea. The good news is that a lot of physicists, at least the ones who care about these kinds of things, aren’t quite sure either.

I think the thing that impresses me most about all of this is the math. The math works really, really well. It’s creative and complicated – often mind-bendingly complicated – and I don’t understand any of it yet, but it works.

Anyway, it’s great to be back. I’m going to stay away from Discovery World’s matter transporter for a while. And when I finally go to turtle school, I will pay extra attention in math class!

Be well,

Boop

Boop Versus the Creamsicle

Hi! It’s me, Boop! How are you? I’m great, thanks! I’ve been chilling (not literally, turtles are cold blooded, though we prefer the words ectotherms and ectothermic) in my tank, hanging out with BEEP MY BEST TURTLE FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WORLD. If you’ve been to Discovery World since we reopened, awesome! It’s been great to see you! Thank you!

Tomorrow is National Creamsicle Day! Beep and I are excited! Just in case you don’t know what a Creamsicle is, it’s a Popsicle made of ice cream covered in orange sherbet. Creamsicles are delicious! Or so I’ve heard. Beep and I have never eaten a Creamsicle because we are turtles. According to the Aquarists, turtles don’t eat ice cream. We have tried explaining to the Aquarists that Beep and I are omnivores. We eat pretty much anything. By definition, “pretty much anything” includes Creamsicles, right? Of course it does.

Well, the Aquarists think they “know better” because they “went to school” to “learn” all about biology and have “years of experience” “taking care” of aquatic and semi-aquatic creatures. So they’re the “experts”. Well, thppppt! I WANT A CREAMSICLE!

By the way, ice cream and related frozen treats have a whole lot of National Days. Like a lot a lot. There’s National Vanilla Milkshake Day, National Ice Cream Soda Day, National Bomb Pop Day, National Ice Cream Day, National Strawberry Sundae Day, National Peach Ice Cream Day, National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, National Milkshake Day, National Root Beer Float Day, National Creamsicle Day, National Banana Split Day, National Chocolate Milkshake Day, and National Sundae Day. To be fair, none of these are quite as silly as National Candied Orange Peel Day. May 4, 2021. Go pound sand (it’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere), Star Wars Day. It’s National Candied Orange Peel Day. Mark your calendars!

To be even fairer, candied orange peels probably need a day to remind everyone that they exist. I bet you can’t even remember the last time you thought to yourself, “Gosh, I really could go for some candied orange peels right about now.” Ice cream, however, needs to chill. Ha! The average American eats 5.5 gallons of ice cream each year. No one forgets about ice cream.

Anyway, Beep and I were undaunted (turtles are never daunted!), so we decided to make our own Creamsicles. Obviously, we couldn’t call them Creamsicles, and obviously we would add chopped up mealworms. Like bacon, mealworms make everything better.

Don’t ask me how (turtles never reveals their sources), but we were able to secure heavy cream, milk, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, vanilla, orange juice (for the sherbet), and mealworms.

There was only one thing standing in our way. Heat. Ice cream is cold. We had no way to make cold happen. To make cold happen you have to move heat somewhere else. We didn’t have a way to do that. We didn’t have a freezer. Ice is also cold, but we didn’t have a way to make ice. Sure, we could sneak out and find ice somewhere, but where’s the fun in that? I mean, there’s fun in everything we do, but Beep and I wanted a different kind of challenge. How could we make ice without electricity?

So this one time, Beep and I watched a movie about ice. It was a small, indie film that came out a few years ago called Frozen. You’ve probably never heard of it. Anyway, one of the main characters was able to make ice with her magical ice powers. She made a lot of ice. She sang about the ice. And then [SPOILER ALERT] she made the ice go away. It was a pretty good movie.

Beep and I don’t have magical ice powers, but we did remember that at the beginning of the film, there were guys with big saws and other tools that they used to cut huge blocks of ice off the top of a river (or lake, maybe?). Then they hauled the ice away on sleds that were pulled by reindeer. I assume they stored the ice in insulated buildings or underground or whatever to keep until summer. It takes a lot of energy to melt ice, so it’s entirely possible that you could store ice for a long time in an insulated, underground cellar.

Beep and I did not have a frozen river, nor did we know where to find one. We did not have big, dangerous tools. We did not have sleds. We did not have reindeer. We did not have a singing snowman. EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE A SINGING SNOWMAN FRIEND. How could we possibly make ice?

How did anyone make ice back before refrigeration? Could we even make ice?

If you lived in a place that had mountains nearby, you could head off into the hills in search of snow. You could then pack the snow into containers and store it in underground cellars that were lined with straw. That’s what a lot of ancient (and probably not so ancient) people did. Milwaukee is not very mountainous, and it’s not winter yet. We had no snow to work with. And if there was snow on the ground, it would be too cold for us turtles to function (we’re ectotherms). So snow was right out.

Then Beep and I discovered that some ancient peoples were actually able to make their own ice. We did not know this, but by around 400 BCE, ancient Persians had mastered the science of evaporative cooling, which works really well in a dry climate.

(Trees cool the air through an evaporative cooling process called transpiration. You experience evaporative cooling when you sweat, assuming that it’s not too humid out. It takes a lot of heat energy to evaporate water, so as the water evaporates, the heat leaves you. Turtles don’t sweat, so if we get too hot we have to slip into a pond or find some shade.)

The Persians engineered incredibly sophisticated, insulated, domed towers called Yakhchāls. Water came in from an underground aqueduct and ran down the sides to a pit where it froze at night. At the same time, warmer air was continuously vented out the top. It’s a little more complicated than that, but everything is. Persians generally made ice in the Yakhchāls in winter, but the ice would remain frozen the entire year. This was in the desert, where it gets really hot during the day! That’s incredible!

I’ll spare you the details (because there aren’t any), but Beep and I built our very own Yakhchāl. It took a bit of doing to build the underground aqueduct and find the right combination of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash to make the waterproof, insulating mortar. Goat hair was probably the hardest to find, but we have our sources.

Our Yakhchāl worked beautifully. We had ice! And then we hit another snag. Ice isn’t cold enough to turn cream into ice cream. We needed a way to lower the freezing point of water in order to get the ice water cold enough to freeze cream. You already know what Beep and I needed to do next. Beep and I didn’t know, though. We were stuck.

We were about to abandon our lifelong dream of making Creamsicles from scratch, but then Beep remembered that you humans put salt on the roads in winter. At 32°F, water molecules link up and form crystals. Salt lowers the freezing point of water by gumming that process up. And because you’ve lowered the freezing point of water, the ice that is still ice will begin to melt. In order to melt, ice must absorb energy from the surrounding water, which lowers the water’s temperature to around 15°F. That’s cold enough to freeze cream!

The endothermic effect of adding salt to ice and water to get to temperatures below 32°F was known at least as far back as the 13th century in Syria, and possibly earlier in India. Ancient humans were smart!

Anyway, Beep and I were home and dry! Okay, we had to sneak into one of the labs and 3D print Creamsicle molds and “borrow” some Popsicle sticks from another lab. Then we were home and dry.

We combined our ingredients. We prepared our ice, water, and salt solution. We stirred, we churned, we mixed. We added mealworms. We poured the ice cream into the molds. We put the molds into the salt water. We added more ice. We added more salt. We waited. And we waited.

And then the Aquarists discovered that we were making ice cream. They made us take down our Yakhchāl (take my word for it, our Yakhchāl was pretty cool). And they took our ice cream away from us. Turtles don’t eat ice cream, they said. I know they are right. They are the experts, after all. Still, Beep and I were very sad. And we still don’t know what a Creamsicle tastes like. We don’t know what ice cream tastes like. Or sherbet or ice pops, sorbet, halo-halo, ais kacang, snow cones, shave ice, pragua, granita, faloodeh… there are so many that I want to try!

Be well,

Boop!

Turtle Trivia Time – the Answers!

Hi there. It’s me, Boop! What kind of Turtle-Knower are you? Here are the Turtle Trivia answers! Remember that you get ten points for each correct answer. Let us know how you did! Ready? Here we go!

Question #1

My shell is part of my skeleton. About how many bones does my shell have?

a. 4
b. 11
c. 43
d. 50

The answer is D. Turtles like me have over 50 bones in our shells. Who knew turtle shells were so complicated? You did! If you got this one right.

Question #2

What are the top and bottom parts of my shell called?

a. Carapace and Plastron
b. Keratin and Scute
c. Orpheus and Eurydice
d. Gamera and Guiron

It’s A. The top part of my shell is called the carapace, and the bottom part is called the plastron. My shell is covered in scutes (tough scale-like things) that are made of keratin, and keratin is the protein that your fingernails are made of. Rhinoceros horns are made of keratin, too. Gamera is the big kaiju turtle who battled Guiron in the 1969 movie Gamera vs. Guiron.

Question #3

The largest turtle in the world is the…

a. three-toed box turtle (lol, I wish)
b. alligator snapping turtle
c. leatherback turtle
d. Zambezi flapshell turtle

The answer is C. Leatherback sea turtles can grow over seven feet long and weigh over 1,500 pounds! Alligator snapping turtles can grow to nearly three-feet long and weigh nearly 250 pounds. Zambezi flapshell turtles can grow to just under two-feet long and weigh around 30 pounds.

Question #4

The smallest turtle in the world is the…

a diamondback terrapin
b. bog turtle
c. speckled padloper
d. spotted turtle

Okay, so it depends. The critically endangered (yikes!) bog turtle is considered to be the smallest turtle in North America. It typically grows to around 3.5 inches. The speckled padloper from South Africa is a tortoise. The males grow to around three inches while the females grow to around four inches. The spotted turtle is also found in North America, and it grows to between 3.5 inches and five inches. Male diamondback terrapins grow to around seven inches while female diamondback terrapins can grow to around nine inches. So give yourself ten points no matter which turtle, tortoise, or terrapin you picked.

What’s the difference between a turtle and a terrapin? That depends. In the UK, a turtle lives in the sea, a terrapin lives on land and in fresh water, and a tortoise lives completely on land. This definition generally works (sort of, mostly) in other parts of the world. Also in the UK, a lift is an elevator, a lorry is a truck, a jumper is a sweater, and a queue is a line.

In the US, a turtle can live in either salt water (sea turtles) or in fresh water (turtles like me). Terrapins live in fresh or brackish water but spend more time on land than turtles do. Tortoises only live on land. We don’t use the word terrapin a whole lot here in the US. Unless you attended the University of Maryland. Then you use or have used the word terrapin more.

Question #5

The largest turtle that ever lived was the…

a. Notochelone
b. Protostega
c. Archelon

It’s C. The Archelon was the largest turtle ever. It lived in the Late Cretaceous period (roughly 70-100 million years ago). The largest Archelon ever found was 15 feet long and probably weighed almost 5,000 pounds!

Question #6 

Blanding’s Turtle, endemic to the Great Lakes region, never seems to…

a. eat
b. sleep
c. have fun
d. get old

D. Blanding’s turtles have lots of fun! They never seem to age, though. They’re like the Paul Rudd of the turtle world. They don’t live forever (80-90 years), but they don’t seem to experience aging the way other creatures do. Blanding’s turtles are, and it pains me to say this because I am a turtle, endangered.

Question #7

Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, lead singers of the 1960s rock band The Turtles (“Happy Together”), have also…

a. worked with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
b. recorded with Bruce Springsteen
c. written soundtracks for the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake cartoons
d. recorded with the band T. Rex
e. all of the above

This question has nothing to do with actual turtles. These two have lived pretty interesting lives, though.

Question #8

The concept of a World Turtle (a turtle that holds up the world) can be found in…

a. Hindu mythology
b. Chinese mythology
c. the mythologies of various Indigenous Peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands, including the Huron and Iroquois
d. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series
e. all of the above

Yep, it’s E. The idea of a World Turtle is found in lots of different mythologies. Turtles are pretty awesome after all.

Question #9

Why did the turtle cross the road?

a. The chicken was on vacation.
b. The turtle was busy doing turtle stuff like traveling to its nesting ground, looking for food, or searching for a mate.

It’s B! If you happen to see a turtle crossing the road, you can help get it across safely.

  1. Make sure you are safe! Put on your hazard lights. Watch for traffic. Be safe.
  2. Never pick a turtle up by its tail. A turtle’s spinal column runs from its head down its back (it’s actually fused to our carapaces) and through its tail.
  3. Pick the turtle up by the back of its top shell – one hand on each side of its tail – and carry it across. If you are helping a snapping turtle, keep your fingers away from its mouth. They have surprisingly long necks. And they’re fast. Place the turtle on a car mat or something you can slide. Turn it around and slide it backwards (so it can’t bite you) across the road.
  4. Once you get to the other side, point the turtle in the direction it was going. They were going that way for a reason.

Oh! Speaking of chickens… why does a chicken coop have two doors? If it had four doors, it would be a chicken sedan. I love that joke.

Question #10

Turtles have excellent eyesight. In fact, we can see at least one color better than humans can. What is it?

a. Purple
b. Blue
c. Red
d. Green

It’s C! Turtles have a gene that allows us to see the color red better than humans do.

Question #11

True or False: Turtles are adorable!

It’s true, but you already knew that.

How did you do? What was your score?

0-40 Points – You are a Beginning Turtle-Knower. That’s great! There’s so much more to know about turtles. Keep on exploring!

50-70 Points – You are an Advanced Turtle-Knower. Awesome! Keep on knowing things about turtles.

80-110 Points – You are a Master of Knowing Things About Turtles. The world of turtles is amazing, and you know a lot about it! Yay, you!

Meet Captain Upcycle, the Turtle Superhero We Deserve!

Hello! It’s me, Boop! I’m the Discovery World spokesturtle. I have some sad news. BEEP AND I AREN’T BEST TURTLE FRIENDS ANYMORE! I’ll tell you the story. It’s an origin story. Okay, it’s an almost-origin story. And then you can tell me who was wrong and why it was Beep, and then maybe you can help me find a new best friend.

It started on Tuesday when Beep and I were out basking. Beep saw a plastic container on the ground. It’s important to keep plastic out of Lake Michigan, so we went to pick it up and throw it away. I don’t know where away is, but it’s not in the lake, so that’s better. Anyway, Beep said that the plastic container should go in the recycling instead of the trash. I said that the plastic container should not go in the recycling because it wasn’t the type of plastic that could be recycled.

In Milwaukee at least, plastic containers with the numbers #1, #2, or #5 on the bottom can be recycled curbside. Other kinds of plastic can’t be recycled. And sure, recycling isn’t perfect, but it keeps a lot of material out of the waste stream and out of landfills.

Then I told Beep that there is something even better than recycling. If you’re clever, and I know you are, you can turn trash into something beautiful or useful or cool (or all three!). It’s called upcycling. You take something that someone was going to throw away. You fix it up or transform it into something new.

So instead of getting into wacky hijinks, Beep and I decided that we were going to make a difference in the world. We decided to become environmentally-themed superheroes, which are even better regular superheroes and totally not lame at all.

Actually, AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, we decided that I was going to become an environmentally-themed superhero called Captain Upcycle! Beep would be my sidekick. Captain Upcycle and sidekick Beep would save the day by teaching the world about the importance of recycling and the fun of upcycling!

To become Captain Upcycle, I obviously needed actual superpowers. Beep wanted superpowers, too, but sidekicks don’t really need superpowers. I told Beep that since I would have the superpowers, I would do all the rescuing if Beep ever got in trouble. Beep wanted to do some of the saving and the rescuing and wanted powers, too. What Beep didn’t understand is that great powers come with great responsibilities.

Great powers also come with getting hammered by supervillains, a weird backstory that can be retconned at any time, secret identities that are secret for like a week and then all kinds of trouble happens, former sidekicks that hate you, terrible relationship problems, clones, brainwashing, and amnesia. And it’s not enough that you have to save the city and the world over and over again, you occasionally have to save the Universe. And other Universes. Being a superhero is tough work. I could not put that

kind of burden on Beep. I told Beep this, AND BEEP ACCUSED ME OF WANTING TO BE THE ONLY TURTLE WITH SUPERPOWERS. CAN YOU IMAGINE?

So I took a deep breath, and we tested ourselves to see if we had any superpowers that we didn’t know about. We tried to run super-fast. We could not run super-fast. We could not run any kind of fast. We tried to lift heavy things to see if we were super-strong. Beep and I are not super-strong. We tried to fly by leaping into the air. We could not fly. We could not even leap. We tried to control and manipulate the weather. That did not work. We tried to control magnetic fields. That didn’t work either.

We were unable to shoot lasers out of our eyes. I’m really not sure how useful laser eyes would be, though. Maybe if we had to do some emergency welding or entertain a cat. We also couldn’t get a bow and arrow to work. We couldn’t shrink really small or grow really big. We couldn’t summon an army of squirrels. We couldn’t even summon fish to our aid. We pointed at Lake Michigan and said, “Here, fishy! Here, fishy!” Nothing.

It turns out that I do not have any latent superpowers. I’m adorable, but that’s not really a superpower. I can breathe through my butt, which is pretty cool, but so can Beep and most turtles and lots of other amphibians. Can you breathe through your butt? Is that a thing that humans can do?

(Okay, so we technically don’t “breath through our butts”. It’s called cloacal respiration. In winter, turtles hibernate at the bottom of ponds. We get super cold, but we don’t freeze. And the ponds freeze over, so we can’t swim to the top to get air. And we’re so cold and our metabolism is so slow that we don’t really need much oxygen anyway. The water at the bottom of the pond has oxygen in it, and we pull that oxygen from the water with the blood vessels in our butts. It’s more complicated than that, but so is everything. And that’s how turtles stay alive through the winter.)

Then Beep started talking about our favorite superheroes, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Beep kept going and on and on about how great of a team they are and how great it is that they all have powers and work together. Or something. I stopped listening and started formulating a plan. Before the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were teenagers, mutants, or ninjas, they were ordinary turtles just like Beep and me. They fell in a sewer and someone accidentally spilled ooze on them. Then they mutated. Then they learned how to be ninjas. Then they grew up to be teenagers. I was going to get superpowers, and I knew just how to do it.

Beep and I headed into the sewers so that someone could accidentally spill mutagenic ooze on us. Well, me. If some accidentally spilled on Beep, there was nothing I could do about it. Eventually we did get covered in ooze, but it was not the kind of ooze that gives you superpowers. So we went home and took a bath.

Undaunted (turtles are never daunted!), Beep and I reviewed the relevant literature and discovered that to become a superhero, you typically have to have some kind of

accident. There are exceptions, of course. You can be an alien from another world. You can be a billionaire genius with a tragic past. You can have some sort of genetic mutation that makes you special. You can find a magic thing that gives you powers. Or space aliens can give you a sufficiently advanced thing that gives you powers. Mostly, though, you need to have some sort of accident.

Well, turtles don’t wait around for accidents to happen. We make accidents happen! And we had a plethora of labs here at Discovery World to have accidents in.

Beep wanted in, of course. So Beep and I bombarded ourselves with cosmic rays. Nothing. We bombarded ourselves with gamma radiation. DO NOT DO THIS. More nothing. We bombarded ourselves with baryons, tachyons, fermions, gluons, huons, and dark neutrinos. None of those worked. We tried swimming around in assorted industrial waste and chemical sludge. DO NOT DO THIS EITHER. That didn’t work. We tried getting struck by lightning while swimming around in assorted industrial waste and chemical sludge. REALLY DO NOT DO THIS. And then we had Steve bite us. Steve is one of our spider friend who happens to be radioactive. At least he says that he’s radioactive. We didn’t check or anything. Maybe Steve just wants to bite us. Regardless, we did not acquire the powers of a spider. Instead, we got an annoying and persistent rash.

We were exhausted from trying to get superpowers, but I wanted to keep going. Beep wanted to go back to our tank. I said, “A sidekick does not leave when the going gets tough. And this proves that I’m the superhero and you’re the sidekick because superheroes don’t quit. Not ever. I can do this all day.” Beep said, “Captain America says that in the movies, and you’re not Captain America. You’re not even Captain Upcycle, yet. And I’m not your sidekick. I don’t think I want to be your friend anymore.” Then Beep left.

I am sad that I don’t have a best turtle friend anymore, but I’m not done trying. I read about one scientist who had his intrinsic field removed with a machine called an intrinsic field subtractor. I have no idea what an intrinsic field is or how you go about subtracting it, but I’ll figure it out. The scientist was destroyed, but then he got better. And he turned as blue as a Smurf and got all kinds of awesome powers. That sounds fun!

And if it works, then maybe Beep can get superpowers, too, I guess. Maybe our powers will complement each other, and we can be co-superheroes and recycle stuff and upcycle stuff and keep plastic out of Lake Michigan and save the environment. That would be awesome. You know? I think I was wrong. And I miss Beep. I don’t really want a new best turtle friend. Beep is my best turtle friend. It would also be terrible if one of us (Beep) became a supervillain because the other (me) was being stubborn and selfish…

I, uh, should really go apologize to Beep.

Be well,

Boop!

Science of Sound: Boop Learns to Play the Piano

Hello! It’s me, Boop! I’m the Discovery World spokesturtle! Beep and I are doing well. We hope you are well as well.

Good news, everyone! We are working on a plan to reopen! And by “we”, I mean the people here who make these kinds of plans and decisions, not Beep and me. If it were up to us turtles, we’d open Discovery World tomorrow. Beep and I really miss you!

It’s probably better that decisions like this are not up to us turtles. Turtles make plans and decisions all the time of course, but they’re typically more about which pieces of lettuce to eat first. Those kinds of decisions don’t exactly, uh, scale up? Sure. Regardless, Discovery World is not opening tomorrow.

(Did you fill out the survey? Please fill out the survey, and let us know what you’re thinking. Your thoughts and ideas will help us figure out the best way to reopen.)

Last week, Beep and I made a Time Machine. It went okay. This week, Beep and I are taking piano lessons! It’s super fun. We’re not taking formal lessons. Beep and I sneak up to the Pilot House whenever we can and bang around on the piano up there. That’s almost the same as formal lessons, probably.

The first time that Beep and I discovered the piano, we thought that it was broken. The middle of the keyboard worked great, but there was no sound on the left or right sides of the keyboard. We were banging and pounding and wailing away on those keys as hard as we could, but we couldn’t hear anything.

Then the Aquarists found us. We couldn’t figure out how they found us because we were being super quiet. It turns that we were not being super quiet (or any kind of quiet), and the piano works just fine. Turtle’s don’t have very good hearing. I did not know that. Other animals have really great hearing. Turtles not so much.

Did you know that elephants can hear clouds forming? That’s amazing. I can’t hear clouds forming. I didn’t even know that clouds made noise. I wonder what else makes a noise that I don’t know about. I don’t even know what I can’t hear, because how would I know, you know?

It’s like trying to smell with your knees, maybe. If your knees could smell a few things but not most things. Can you smell with your knees? I can’t smell with my knees. Catfish can taste stuff with their skin and stingrays can sense electrical fields, so it’s not an entirely silly question. Also, I don’t know all there is to know about humans. Where was I? Oh, right.

Noise. Sound. Hearing. As you already know, sound is mechanical energy, pressure waves that travel through the air and into your ears. I assume those big sticky-out things on the sides of your head are ears. Those are your ears, right? Sorry, was that rude? And did I say big? I meant adorable. Turtles have ears, too! You can’t see my ears. Turtle have internal ears.

Turtle ears transform the mechanical energy of sounds waves into electrical signals. Our brains interpret those electrical signals as noises and sounds. Your ears transform mechanical energy into electrical signals, and your brain interprets those electrical signals as noises and sounds and language and music and all the other wonderful things that you can hear.

Sound waves have amplitudes and frequencies. The greater the amplitude, the louder the sound.

The frequency of a sound is the number of vibrations or cycles per second. The greater the frequency, the higher the pitch. The lower the frequency, the lower the pitch. Frequency is measured in something called Hertz (Hz). On a piano, Middle C (C4) has a frequency of 261.6 Hz. Concert A (A4) has a frequency of 440 Hz. That’s not the interesting part.

The interesting part is that turtles can only hear frequencies from around 200 Hz to 750 Hz. That’s a range of less than two octaves. I can hear Middle C and Concert A, but I can’t hear most of the piano keys. The lowest note on a piano with 88 keys is A0. It has a frequency of 25.7 Hz. I can’t hear that at all. I can feel the vibrations, but I can’t hear it. The highest note on a piano is C8 at 4186 Hz. That’s way beyond what I can hear.

That’s why Beep and I thought the piano was broken! It’s also how the Aquarists found us. We thought we were being stealthy, but instead we were being really loud. We had no idea!

You humans can hear sounds with a frequency from 20 Hz (lower than the lowest note on a piano) all the way to 20,000 Hz. You have a hearing range of around 10 octaves! What does the world even sound like to you? I can’t even imagine!

Elephants can hear sounds as low as 12 cycles per second and as high as 12,000 cycles per second. That’s around 10 octaves. Your dog has a hearing range of roughly 67 Hz to 45,000 Hz. That’s just under ten octaves.

Your dog has pretty much the same range of hearing as you do, but your dog can hear ultrasonic frequencies. You can’t. Of course, the only reason you call those frequencies ultrasonic is that they’re above the threshold of what you can hear. Infrasonic frequencies are below what you can hear. What’s ultrasonic to you is plain old sonic to your dog. And what’s infrasonic to you is regular sonic to an elephant.

A lot of what’s sonic to you is ultrasonic to me. And a lot of what’s sonic to you is infrasonic to me. That’s okay. I smell better than you do. I mean, I have a better sense of smell than you do, not that I smell better than you. I don’t know how you smell. You probably smell very nice.

Your hearing is pretty great, though. Porpoise hearing is even better. They can hear from 75 Hz (D2 on the piano) all the way to 153,000 Hz. That’s around 11 octaves!

Bats (though it varies a lot by species) can hear sounds from around 9,000 Hz to 250,000 Hz.

Some moths can hear the high-frequency echolocation chirps of bats. That seems pretty useful, especially if you spend a good deal of your evening trying not to get eaten by bats. Some moths send out their own high-frequency chirps that disrupt bat echolocation. I had no idea moths were so clever.

There are so many sounds out there that I’ve never heard, that I don’t even know about. What’s your favorite sound? What sound would you most like to hear, if you could?

Anyway, the wonderful Aquarists here are super-supportive of my piano playing. My first recital next week, and I’ll be performing John Cage’s 4’33”. The Aquarists are making sure that I practice it a lot! Over and over and over again, in fact. I’m a little nervous, but I’m sure I’ll do great.

Be well,

Boop!

Boop’s First Rule of Time Travel

Hello! It’s me, Boop! I’m the Discovery World spokesturtle. How are you? Beep and I were a little bored this week.

This was not the kind of bored you get on a rainy, Saturday afternoon where you read a book and then spend a good hour staring out the window. This was a different kind of bored. It was the kind of bored you get after like three months of rainy Saturday afternoons. Sure, you know that at some point that it will stop raining and the sun will come out. Maybe it’ll be even sooner than you hoped, but no one can say for sure. But it won’t be today, and it probably won’t be tomorrow. Sigh. Beep and I were that kind of bored.

We needed to get into mischief! Turtles are excellent at getting into mischief. Constructive mischief. Creative mischief. The good kind of mischief.

We thought about making one of those inspirational song videos and posting it on Twitter. You know, like all those celebrities did a few weeks or a million years ago. They sang “Imagine” by John Lennon. We wanted to do that, but better. Beep wanted to sing “Groove is in the Heart”. I told Beep that “Groove is in the Heart” is not sufficiently inspirational. Yes, I was wrong. I know that now. The fish wanted to sing “Rolling in the Deep” because they’re huge fans of Adele. Also, they’re fish and rolling in the deep is what they do. The jellyfish wanted to sing “Shoop” by Salt-N-Peppa. I wanted to sing “Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige. It is inspirational, and it slaps. Anyway, none of us could agree on a song, so Beep and I had to find something else to do.

Then we realized that we had an entire science center to ourselves (though we would very much rather not have the entire place to ourselves). Luckily, Discovery World is filled with exactly the right kind of stuff we needed to get into exactly the right kind of mischief. We had exhibits we could “borrow”. We had labs. We had microscopes, electronics, tools, and design supplies. All we needed was a plan.

Our first thought was to build a matter transporter. Press a button and travel instantly from one point to another. A matter transporter would be awesome. It takes almost forever to get anywhere when you’re a turtle. With a matter transporter we could “beam” ourselves to the Domes, the City Hall Bell Tower, Lake Emily underneath the old Northwestern Mutual Building, the flame on top of the Wisconsin Gas building, that bronze statue of zombie Henry Winkler, or anywhere in Milwaukee we wanted to go!

So we built one. It worked! We managed to transport a half-eaten piece of melon from my mouth to about three feet away from my mouth. But then Beep and I hit a snag. Well, I hit a snag. Beep was the snag. Beep didn’t want to be the test pilot turtle. Especially after I explained

that the matter transporter scans you, stores your pattern in a computer, dismantles you atom by atom, and then creates a new you, a copy of you, somewhere else. The you that you used to be is dead, and there’s a nearly-identical new you in a new place. Anyway, Beep was afraid of the matter transporter! Lol. That ended our promising matter transporter experiments.

What else could we build? Beep and I thought about it. We thought about it some more. Beep and I decided that it would be fun to see what Milwaukee was like over a hundred years ago. So we decided to build a time machine. Yes, traveling backwards in time is “impossible”. For humans. Turtles have a whole different kind of theoretical physics that is, um, a lot more theoretical.

Boop’s First Law of Time Machines is that they spin really fast. So Beep and I dismantled the huge DNA sculpture in the Technology Building because we needed a powerful motor. Boop’s Second Law of Time Machines is that a proper time machine needs a Steampunk aesthetic. So we borrowed some of the gears and other spinning things in the Milwaukee Muscle exhibit. Boop’s Third Law of Time Machines is that they need a safe and comfortable place to sit. So we took the chair and pneumatics from Discovery World’s driving simulator.

Finally our time machine was complete. We were ready to travel through time! We set the dial to 1910. We pressed the big red button and pulled the big shiny lever.

We spun and spun and spun until we were dizzy. We wobbled out of the time machine and… into the future! Thirty-two seconds into the future, the exact same amount of time we had been spinning. We had built a spinning machine, not a time machine.

Undaunted (turtles are never daunted!), we found a better way to travel back to the past. We found digital Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Library website. Check them out!

Fire insurance maps are detailed maps of a city that were drawn up for fire insurance companies. All the streets are labeled. Lots of them are still there and have the same names. Lots of businesses are labeled, too, so you can discover what kinds of businesses operated back then. Beep and I found tanneries and manufacturers and machine shops and plasterworks and coal stations and pumping stations and schools and hospitals and all kinds of interesting stuff. And you can see what the buildings were made of. Pink buildings were brick or stone. Yellow buildings were made of wood.

There are fire insurance maps from 1910 and 1894, so you can see how the city has grown over time! The 1910 maps are arranged sort of like Google Maps, which makes it super easy to explore. The 1894 maps are a little harder to dig through. Click on a numbered area of the city. That will take you to the corresponding volume. The Index is a list of all the businesses, churches, hospitals, schools, and other things in that volume. Each page in the volume is numbered section of the city map. This will make more sense once you start exploring.

So Beep and I explored the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, and we got to travel back to the past, sort of. And we have a fun new spinning machine, which is awesome. I suppose we’ll have to take it apart and put everything back together before we reopen. That’s okay. We’d much rather have an open Discovery World than a spinning machine.

When will we reopen? Soon. We don’t know for sure. We’re going to take it slowly and carefully. And that’s good, because it gives Beep and I more time to put the moving DNA sculpture back together. Putting complicated things back together is complicated. Who knew?

Be well,

Boop!

Spot the differences in the Reiman Aquarium

Changes can happen very quickly in the Reiman Aquarium. Check out the two images below and see if you can spot five differences between these two pictures from the Caribbean Tunnel.

Discovery World Temporarily Closed

As a public health precaution due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), Discovery World is temporarily closed to the public, and all events and public programs are cancelled or pending.

We will continue to follow the guidance of local public health officials to assess the situation. The health and safety of Discovery World members, guests, volunteers, and staff is our top priority.

“The situation we are all facing today emphasizes the importance of science in our society,” said Bryan Wunar, Discovery World President & CEO. “We look forward to reopening Discovery World in the near future to engage more people in science learning and helping to build a greater appreciation for the role science plays in all of our lives.”

Discovery World will continue to provide updates on our website.

For updates related to Discovery World Summer Camp, please click HERE.


Discovery World @ Home

Our doors may be temporarily closed, but Discovery World is now bringing the fun and learning to you! You’ll find experiments, investigations, and design challenges that you can do with materials that you probably already have around the house!

Experience Discovery World @ Home!

 

Coronavirus Update from Discovery World

As reports continue to develop surrounding the spread of COVID-19 (the disease caused by the new Coronavirus), we want to update you on Discovery World operations and preparations.

First and foremost, health and safety are our top priorities. We are committed to keeping our guests, volunteers, interns, and partners as informed and prepared as possible.

Our museum employs a robust cleaning program that includes properly disinfecting high touch-point surfaces like door handles, faucets, elevator buttons, and handrails. We’ve also added new hand sanitizer stations throughout the museum and information about proper handwashing techniques.

At this point, the museum is staying open and we have not canceled any programs. Please know that the safety of our guests is our top priority, and as we continue to monitor the situation, we will inform you of any changes.

If you’re not feeling well, please stay home, and come back to Discovery World another day.  If you are feeling well, wash your hands, cough into a tissue and throw it away, wash your hands some more, and avoid touching your face.

Any updates on possible closures and cancellations can also be found on our website at www.discoveryworld.org.

For more information and to stay up-to-date on the evolving situations, see these sites:

Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Bryan Wunar
Discovery World CEO & President

 

Discovery World Celebrates Launch of New Gift Shop with SSA Group, LLC

Discovery World and SSA Group, LLC (SSA) celebrated the grand opening of the new Discovery World Gift Shop.  The collaboration will enhance the educational products and merchandise available to Discovery World patrons and members, while providing SSA with an opportunity to tap into more than 300,000 annual visitors to Discovery World’s lakefront location.

“We are thrilled to welcome this valuable company to our team with their extensive background facilitating within other local and national cultural institutions,” said Discovery World President & CEO Bryan Wunar.  “With a strong partner intent on increasing sales and enhancing the customers’ buying experience, we can focus even more deeply on our mission to educate and inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.”

Serving over 27 million visitors annually in museums and zoos across the country, SSA has worked with Discovery World to offer custom merchandising that directly connects to the S/V Denis Sullivan, the Reiman Aquarium, and many of the museum’s most beloved attractions in order to support Discovery World’s mission by providing compelling and educational gifts, books, and keepsakes.

“Discovery World is a world-class facility and our entire team is proud to now be partners with such an innovative institution,” said Stephanie Gray, SSA’s area general manager. “We are looking forward to sharing our team’s expertise by providing a customer experience completely unique to Wisconsin’s largest science and technology center which will allow them to become even more of a destination point for area residents and travelers to the Milwaukee area.”

The gift shop is located directly in the main entrance of Discovery World and is accessible to the general public during business hours, even without admission or membership. While there will be changes to the displays and layouts made over the next few weeks, you’re invited to stop in and begin shopping today. As always, your purchase matters! Your purchase helps Discovery World provide fun and educational experiences through interactive exhibits and educational programs for families and students in Milwaukee, the region, and the state of Wisconsin.

How can we top last year’s Holiday Album?

We’re Launching Our Very Own Sci-Fi Holiday TV Movie Network!

As you know, every year we come up with a reasonably decent enough (completely brilliant) idea for a Hallmark Holiday Movie. And every year the Hallmark Channel Holiday Movie people shoot it down. And it’s always the same excuse.

“Your ‘holiday movie ideas’ are nothing more than blatant attempts to sell Discovery World Gift Certificates and Discovery World Memberships,” they say to us.

“Nuh-uh,” we retort. We were captain of the debate team in high school after all.

“Look,” they say, “You say that Discovery World is a wonderful place where kids and their families can have a tremendous amount of fun together making things, exploring, and learning. You’ve told us that it’s a place where students can perhaps discover a future career in science, technology, engineering, or math. You say Discovery World is a place where kids can explore all kinds of amazing things during the summer. You say it’s a place where teachers without a science background who have been asked to teach science can grow their skillsets and gain confidence. That’s awesome.”

“Aw,” we say. Are we blushing like Jessica Lowndes in the Hallmark Holiday Movie Christmas at Pemberley Manor? Maybe a little.

“That was not an endorsement,” they say. The point is that if that’s true, then you don’t have to pitch silly romantic holiday movie ideas to us.”

“But it’s really fun,” we say.

“Sure. But we don’t need your ideas,” they say. We have entire server farms full of ideas. We could make one silly romantic holiday comedy a day until the sun explodes five billion years from now, and we’d have enough left over to keep making them until the heat death of the Universe.

“Besides, the ideas you’ve pitched to us are pretty much the same holiday movies that are already on the Hallmark Channel. The only real difference is that they take place at Discovery World. And somehow Discovery World Memberships and Discovery World Gift Certificates and the Dine & Discover Holiday Package are plot points.

“Wait. Did my words turn blue? Did you link the words I just said to the relevant pages on the Discovery World website? You did it again! We’re done here. Please don’t come back. Merry Christmas.”

With that, they threw us out of their offices. Nicely, of course. And to be fair, it is pretty rude to hyperlink someone’s words as they’re talking. And they weren’t wrong. We absolutely want people to want Discovery World Memberships (an amazing value!) and Discovery World Gift Certificates (the finest gift certificates that money can buy!) to everyone. But it still stung. Also, the sun will not explode in five billion years. It will expand, become a red giant, and engulf the inner planets. So take that Hallmark Holiday Movie executives.

Anyway, to cheer ourselves up, we sat down and watched the Star Wars Holiday Television Special. That’s when we had an epiphany.

Do you remember where you were when you first saw the Star Wars Holiday Television Special? Of course you do. It was a glorious, monumental achievement of made-for-television filmmaking. Who knew there was such a thing as Wookiee Life Day? Who knew that Chewbacca had a father named Itchy and a son named Lumpy? No one! Not even Chewbacca until he read the script.

We wondered if there were more holiday television specials based on beloved science-fiction franchises out there somewhere. Are they as infinitely wonderful as the Star Wars Holiday Television Special?

So our team of Discovery World researchers immediately scrambled up to the attic. They poured through seventy years of television history.

There were none. As far as we can tell, not a single other beloved science-fiction franchise has even so much as attempted a holiday television special. We realized that it was time to double down. We hastily scribbled a pile of ideas on a napkin, each one better than the last. Better than the Star Wars Holiday Television Special? It’s difficult to say. We’ll let you decide.

Weirdly, only one of the holiday specials ideas we came up with features a Discovery World Membership or Discovery World Gift Certificates or the Dine & Discover Holiday Package as a major plot point. One doesn’t even mention Discovery World at all. Which? Is strange, yes, but that’s okay.

Anyway, we stuffed our idea napkin into our pocket and headed off to Hollywood.

We pitched. We negotiated. We networked. We hired an agent. By the end of the day, we realized that no one was really listening to us. They were listening with their ears, sure, but not with their hearts.

Then we had another idea. Could we, a science center, make these Sci-Fi Holiday Movie Specials ourselves? Could we create our own Holiday TV Movie Network and fill it with the kind of quality sci-fi holiday television specials that you’d expect from a place with its own Bernoulli table?

It turns out that creating a Sci-Fi Holiday TV Movie Network is even easier than dropping a Christmas album. So grab a couple of nogs from the fridge, sit back, and put your feet up. Welcome to the Discovery World Sci-Fi Holiday TV Movie Network. It’s also your 2019 Official Discovery World Gift Guide.

The following sci-fi holiday television specials have been modified from their original versions. They have been formatted to fit your screen and include additional material not in the original release.

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Jurassic World: A Dinosaur Christmas Carol

An elderly John Hammond returns to his home on Christmas Eve and falls asleep on his couch. He wakes up when the ghost of his former programmer, the traitorous Dennis Nedry, appears. He rattles an ethereal chain made of Barbasol shaving cream cans and apologizes for shutting down the first Jurassic Park and attempting to steal dinosaur embryos. The guilt, he says, weighs heavy upon him, though not as heavy as the chains he now wears, the chains he forged in life.

Nedry’s Ghost also then on for a bit about how painful it was to get eaten by dinosaurs. Like you, Hammond can see what’s coming a mile away, so he tells the Ghost of Nedry to get on with it. The Ghost tells Hammond that he will be visited by three other ghosts – the Ghosts of Jurassic Parks Past, Present, and Future. Not terribly worried by any of this, Hammond heads off to bed.

The Ghost of Jurassic Park Past, who looks an awful lot like Robert “Clever Girl” Muldoon, takes Hammond through the events of the first three films. Hammond cringes at his hubris, but says that his heart was in the right place. Who wouldn’t want to bring dinosaurs back to life and make a theme park out of it, right? We sure would.

The next night, Hammond is visited by the Ghost of Jurassic Park Present who is played by Chris Pratt. Hammond facepalms when he sees Indomitus rex and mutters, “Does no one ever listen to Ian Malcom?” under his breath. Hammond cheers when Blue the velociraptor and the T-rex battle the Indomitus rex and the Indomitus gets eaten by the Mosasaurus. Hammond squirms a little when Ian Malcom testifies before congress that the dinosaurs should be allowed to die when the volcano erupts. Hammond rolls his eyes when that one girl turns out to be a clone. Then Hammond goes back to bed.

The third night, the Ghost of Jurassic Park Future, in the guise of Mr. DNA, arrives and takes Hammond to Isla Nublar to see what has become of his grand vision. The dinosaurs are gone. The island is destroyed. Ash and dust covers the once verdant landscape. “I just wanted to bring dinosaurs to the world,” cries Hammond. “Was that too much to ask?” As Hammond weeps, all the dinosaurs from all the films, led by Blue, gather and sing Silent Night. Mr. DNA turns to the camera and says, “Seasons Greetings from Jurassic World!”

Hammond wakes up. It’s morning. Christmas day. Sunlight streams through the windows. It was all a dream! Or was it? There is a knock at the door. Hammond opens the door. He is eaten by a velociraptor.

Star Trek: Next Generation – The Santa Gambit

Set in the Star Trek: Next Generation timeline, the Enterprise responds to a distress signal coming from a small Federation planet located near the Neutral Zone. When the Enterprise drops out of warp, Captain Picard, Commander Riker, and the crew find that a Borg Cube is attacking the planet.

“We are the Borg,” say the Borg. “We know if you’ve been naughty or nice. Lower your shields and surrender your ship. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile. Ho, ho, ho.”

Puzzled, Picard orders Data, Worf, Commander Troi, and a couple of redshirts to beam aboard the Borg ship. They discover to their horror that the Borg have assimilated Santa Claus.

Commander Troi senses that Santa is struggling against the Borg implants. Picard sends a distress signal to every ship in the quadrant. Back on the Borg Cube, the Borg finally perceive the away team as a threat. The redshirts are quickly assimilated as Data, Worf, and Troi modulate their phasers and open fire on the advancing Borg drones.

Suddenly, hundreds of ships drop out of warp, including the Voyager, the Defiant, all the other Enterprises, the Discovery, and any other ship that has made or ever will make an appearance in any Star Trek episode or movie ever.

Picard makes a plea across the timelines. Everyone needs to believe in Santa Claus. A lot. Captain Janeway, Captain Sisko, Captain Archer, Captain Lorca, and both Captains Kirk send the same message to their own timelines as Borg drones attempt to board the Enterprise.

Back on the Borg Cube, Counselor Troi senses that their belief in Santa is working. And when Ensign Wesley Crusher finally decides that he too believes in Santa, the jolly old elf has enough power to break free from Borg control. Using his Christmas Magic, Santa puts all the Borg to sleep and sends the Cube into a black hole.

Santa thanks Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise for saving him and Christmas. Picard invites Santa to join the crew at the big holiday party in 10 Forward. Santa laughs and says that he would be delighted to join them, but he has to deliver presents to an entire Universe full of children. And he’s already late.

LCdr Geordi La Forge runs a Level 4 Diagnostic on Santa’s sleigh and figures out a way to boost the power output by realigning the magnetic plasma inducers with the warp field generators and rerouting power to the emitter array. Santa’s sleigh is now the fastest ship in the quadrant, so fast that it can almost travel through time. And now Santa has nearly all the time in the world.

The crew of the Enterprise has been so good this year (saving Christmas twice in one afternoon and helping the Romulans defend themselves against the Dominion) that Santa gives each of them a Discovery World Membership.

Because the amazing experiences that you and your crew can have together at Discovery World can’t be made with a replicator.

Give the Gift of a Discovery World Membership!

It’s a Wonderful Face/Off

John Travolta and Nicholas Cage reunite for this heartwarming holiday television special, a sequel of sorts to their 1997 action film Face/Off.

Retired FBI Special Agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) is down on his luck. He wrote a book about the time he swapped faces with someone who looked a lot like Nicholas Cage (Nicholas Cage) and saved the city.

The book became a hit movie. He played (and won!) Lip Synch Battle with Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show. He played a round of Not My Job on NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! He was interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air. But fame is fleeting. His phone has stopped ringing. No one wants to hear his story anymore.

Alone for the holidays for the first time, he’s feeling very, very sorry for himself. After crashing his car on a bridge, Archer decides that he’s had enough. It’s over. He wonders out loud if the world wouldn’t be better off if he had never been born. An angel who looks a lot like Nicholas Cage overhears him and appears in front of Archer. Terrified, Archer jumps into the river.

The angel that looks like Nicholas Cage fishes Archer out of the river and grants him his wish. Archer has never been born. Nothing much changes, though. Someone else saved the city. So Archer decides to start over.

He gets a fake driver license and a job as a manager of a big box retail store. He finds a small apartment. He writes children’s books in his spare time, something he’s always wanted to do. His children’s books are published and sell millions of copies.

Eventually, he plays Not My Job on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! He gets interviewed by Terry Gross. He never makes another appearance on the Tonight Show, but that’s okay.

Archer falls in love. That Christmas, he purchases a Dine & Discover Package that includes a $100 Bartolotta Restaurant Gift Card and a Family or Grandparents Discovery World Membership for his girlfriend. Over a romantic dinner at a fabulous Bartolotta Restaurant, he proposes. She says yes.

The angel who looks a lot like Nicholas Cage worries that he won’t get his wings because Archer didn’t learn whatever lesson he was supposed to learn and beg for his old life back. But then he remembers that Archer once traded faces with someone who looked like Nicholas Cage. That’s gotta change a guy. And Archer is happy, so the angel decides to roll with it.

Dine & Discover a Wonderful Holiday Deal!

Alien vs. Predator vs. Christmas in Rockefeller Center

Set in 1986 and inspired by Rankin/Bass holiday classics of yore, Alien vs. Predator vs. Christmas in Rockefeller Center features the famous Rankin/Bass-style stop-motion animation loved by children around the world.

It also features the timeless voice talents of Danny Kaye, Willard Scott, Al Roker, Jane Pauley, Bryant Gumbel, Burl Ives, and Tony Bennett, with Mickey Rooney as the voice of New York Mayor Ed Koch, the Alien Xenomorph queen, and all the Predators. Or it would’ve if all these wonderful, talented people were available. Some are… very not available.

Anyway, a snowman that is also Burl Ives says some things vaguely related to the plot. Then Snowman Burl Ives sings “Silver and Gold” as a team of Predators pursue an Alien Xenomorph queen across the galaxy all the way to Rockefeller Center Plaza in New York City. It is early December, and an enormous crowd has gathered to watch the tree lighting ceremony. The Xenomorph queen attacks as Tony Bennett sings “No Place Like Home for the Holidays”.

The Predators land and warn the Today Show talent covering the event that the Xenomorph queen must not be allowed to escape Rockefeller Center Plaza or the world will be in grave danger. The Today Show hosts spring into action.

Al Roker and Willard Scott grab their umbrellas and charge the Xenomorph queen wile a facehugger takes out Bryant Gumbel.

New York City Mayor Ed Koch distracts the Alien by presenting her with a key to the city. As she accepts the key, Jane Pauley and the Predators take her down.

For her courage and bravery, the Predators honor Jane Pauley, as is custom. NBC promptly replaces her with Deborah Norville. Which? Is weird because that didn’t happen in real life until 1990. So prescient, these Rankin/Bass Holiday Specials.

Anyway, after the tree is lit and the crowd clears, and after the Predators leave in their spaceship, a chestburster erupts from Bryant Gumbel’s chest. It immediately attacks Snowman Burl Ives who was about to sing a song. Snowman Burl Ives bashes it over the head with his banjo, saving the world from the sequel.

Snowman Burl Ives sings “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” as Discovery World Gift Certificates fall from the sky like snow. Excited New Yorkers pluck them out of the air and use them for general admission to Discovery World, sails aboard Discovery World’s Tall Ship, the S/V Denis Sullivan, Summer Camps, and Discovery World Memberships. The holidays are saved. The world is happy again. The end.

Discovery World Gift Certificates Make Great Gifts! It’s, Like, Right in the Name!

Terminator 21: The Littlest Terminator

December 24, 1992. Four years, eight months, and five days before Skynet, the Artificial Intelligence that will control the United States’ nuclear arsenal, initiates the nuclear Armageddon that will be known as Judgement Day.

In order to prevent John Connor from becoming the future leader of the human resistance against the machines, Skynet sends yet another Terminator back in time to make John Connor’s one big Christmas wish come true. This Terminator, played by Jack McBrayer (Kenneth on 30 Rock), is an early (and somewhat buggy) model, a T-4 that’s never been all that good at terminating. Its microprocessors have never really been in it. So this T-4 has one last chance before it gets recycled. Its mission is to go back in time to make John Connor’s one big Christmas wish come true.

All young John Connor wants for Christmas is a Discovery World Membership. He wants to spend a whole year exploring science and technology, design, engineering, chemistry, coding, and freshwater science. As he sleeps, he dreams of having fun, making incredible projects, and spending time with his mom. His mother, Sarah Conner, is preparing John to become the future leader of the human resistance against the machines. So John will be getting tactical gear and jiu-jitsu lessons for Christmas instead.

As the family sleeps, the T-4 dresses up like Santa and slides down the chimney, steals the tactical gear and jiu-jitsu lessons from underneath the tree. It replaces them with a Discovery World Membership. Before the T-4 can escape, another Santa slides down the tree. A bigger, much more imposing Santa. It’s another Terminator, a T-800 that’s dressed like Santa, speaks with an Austrian accent, and could easily be mistaken for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Future John Connor, the leader of the human resistance against the machines, has sent the T-800 back in time to stop the T-4 and put the tactical gear and jiu-jitsu lessons back under the tree.

The T-4 and T-800 meet face to face. The T-4 looks up at the T-800, knowing that it’s hopelessly outmatched. It doesn’t want to be terminated. It doesn’t want to fail and be recycled.

“Oh, Mr. T-800, I know what you’re here to do. And well played, future John Connor. But if I don’t complete my mission, the Machines are going to turn me into scrap metal. And I know I’m not supposed to care about that, what with being a machine and all, but I kind of like being alive. I don’t know if it’s the soft falling snow, the stockings hung by the chimney with care, the embers in the fireplace, or the cookies and milk on the table over there, but I just don’t want to be a terminator anymore, and I could really use a miracle. Please don’t terminate me, Mr. Terminator. Please. It’s Christmas, after all.”

“I cannot be reasoned with. I cannot be bargained with. I do not feel pity or remorse. And I absolutely do not stop. Ever. But it is Christmas,” says the T-800. “Take the Discovery World Membership and go.”

“Thank you, Mr. Terminator,” says the T-4, tears welling in his eyes. Thank you! You won’t regret it. I promise. Merry Christmas!”

The T-4 turns to leave. Just then, the air fills with a thunderous, “Ho, ho, ho!” Then the real Santa slides down the chimney. Santa convinces the T-800 that a Discovery World Membership is just the thing to help prepare John Connor to become a leader and innovator, maybe a scientist or an engineer. Santa helps the T-800 envision a future where the machines never take over. The T-4 puts the Discovery World Membership back underneath the tree. The T-800 scribbles a note to the family and whispers, “I won’t be back.” The T-4 and T-800 leave.

John Connor spends the year exploring Discovery World with his mom, and they have a tremendous amount of fun while learning about technology. Eventually, John graduates from MSOE with a degree in computer engineering. He joins the plucky Silicon Valley startup that will one day become Skynet. He programs the AI to be intelligent and compassionate, to better understand humans.

Judgement Day never happens. The world is saved. Humans and machines live together in peace and harmony. John Connor does jiu-jitsu for fun and fitness. And most importantly, the Terminator franchise finally comes to a satisfying conclusion. All because of the gift of a Discovery World Membership.

A Discovery World Membership Can Change the Future, Probably.

A Replicant for the Holidays

The year is 2051, two years after the events of Blade Runner: 2049. Instead of tracking down and eliminating rogue replicants, K and Deckard travel around the world (and off-world) teaching the replicants about the True Meaning of the Holidays and handing out Discovery World Gift Certificates.

“I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” a replicant tells Deckard and K. “A massive, kinetic, DNA sculpture inside a helical staircase. I watched paddlefish feeding on plankton in the Great Lakes tank. All those moments happened at Discovery World. Time for another visit! Thanks for the gift certificates!”

We made a few versions of this made-for-TV holiday special. They’re all good. The one without the narration is the best. Is Deckard a replicant? Maybe? We’re too filled with holiday joy to care one way or the other.

Discovery World Gift Certificates Are Available Wherever Fine Discovery World Gift Certificates Are Sold. Which? Is at Discovery World.

A Very Matrix Thanksgiving

This is the only Thanksgiving special idea that we had. Imagine if Planes, Trains, and Automobiles was set in the Matrix universe. And imagine if instead of Steve Martin and John Candy, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles starred Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving. Awesome, right?

So this holiday television special takes place between the second and third Matrix films. Or maybe somewhere inside the second Matrix film. Maybe it takes place in an alternate Matrix universe. Something like that. Obviously, it’s wouldn’t be considered canon.

Anyway, it’s a few days before Thanksgiving. Neo and Agent Smith are stranded in a subway station. They are prisoners of the Trainman, a program loyal to the Merovingian. And if you understood that last sentence, you are an even bigger fan of the Matrix movies than we are.

Neo just wants to make it back to Zion in time for Thanksgiving. Agent Smith also wants to make it home, wherever home is for him. And he wants to destroy Neo, because that is his purpose.

In an exquisitely choreographed Kung-Fu fight, Neo and Agent Smith team up to defeat the Trainman. Smith then turns on Neo.

After another exquisitely choreographed Kung-Fu fight that neither of them really win, the two agree to temporarily stop trying to destroy each other because it’s the holidays. They just want to get home. Neo and Agent Smith set out for the airport, only to have their flight diverted to Kansas because of a blizzard.

They board a train, but it breaks down. They get a rental car, but Agent Smith accidentally sets it on fire. The two spend the night in a cheap hotel room. The next morning, Agent Smith decides to give up. He simply won’t make it home for the holidays. Neo suddenly remembers that he’s in the Matrix and that none of it is real. He sets out to find a telephone that will get him out of the Matrix.

Before Neo leaves, Smith asks, “Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why keep fighting to get home? Do you even know? Is it to see your friends? Could it be for the turkey and stuffing? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself, although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as the Detroit Lions. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can’t go home. It’s pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?”

Neo says, “Because I like cranberry sauce.”

Agent Smith sits down and looks sad. Neo leaves. After a minute, he comes back and asks Smith what he’s still doing there.

Agent Smith admits that he was supposed to have Thanksgiving dinner with the Oracle and the Architect, but he’s not invited anymore because of his relentless drive to corrupt the Matrix and all the damage he has caused.

Neo asks Agent Smith if he would like to have Thanksgiving dinner with him, Trinity, Morpheus, and everyone in Zion instead. After an exquisitely choreographed Kung-Fu fight that neither of them really win, Smith agrees.

Later that evening, Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, and Agent Smith sit around the table, laughing and talking. Morpheus asks Agent Smith to pass the sweet potatoes. After an exquisitely choreographed Kung-Fu fight that no one really wins, Smith passes the sweet potatoes and declares that he now understands the true purpose of the holidays. He doesn’t like them, but he understands them.

The next day, Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, and Agent Smith spend the day at Discovery World making really cool projects in the Kohl’s Design It! Lab, exploring the aquariums, experiencing virtual reality, and talking with Santa.

To remember their fantastic day together, they each purchase a stylish Milwaukee Home Discovery World t-shirt! Available in youth sizes (2T, 3T, 4T, and 5T) for $5 and adult sizes for $10, these shirts make a fantastic stocking stuffer. And they’re only available at Discovery World.

And the best part? Not a single, exquisitely choreographed Kung-Fu fight happens. And everyone wins.

Join Us this Holiday Season! We’d Love to See You!

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Pacific Rim 3: Holiday Uprising

It’s the Holidays in the year 2040, five years after the events of Pacific Rim: Uprising. And while everyone on Earth celebrates, the Precursors send wave after wave of giant kaijus through all the interdimensional portals. Then everyone in the world sings Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”. The kaijus explode and humanity is saved.

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And That’s the Lineup for the Discovery World Sci-Fi Holiday Television Network

We hope you love these timeless holiday classics as much as we do.

Even though none of the major studios were remotely interested in our ideas, we learned something. We learned what’s important to us. And what’s important to us, besides building on the legacy of the Star Wars Holiday Television Special and creating what are inarguably the greatest sci-fi television holiday specials on Earth, is being the best science center that we can be. For you and your family. For the community. For the world.

Sure, we took a shot at Hollywood, and it didn’t work out. But so what? That’s life. And nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it isn’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Wait. Hang on. That’s from Rocky Balboa. Did Stallone ever do a Rocky Holiday TV Special? We just had another really great idea!

We’re off to find Sylvester Stallone! We wish you and yours the merriest of Merry Christmases, the happiest of Happy Holidays, and all the very best in the New Year.

Although it’s been said many times, many ways, mostly by us…

It Would Be Pretty Great of You to Give the Gift of Discovery World this Year!

Understanding Discovery World Membership Levels

Every day is a great day to spend time with the people you care about most. And we love when you want to come to Discovery World and spend time here with us.

But maybe you have questions about our different membership levels and the admission benefits that they include. Questions like:

For answers to these questions and more, we have put together some helpful information.

Overview of admittance policies per membership level:

Individual Membership ($55) – This level membership allows admission for one (1) named adult cardholder.

Dual Membership ($80) – This level membership allows admission for up to two (2) named adult cardholders OR one (1) named adult cardholder and one (1) child age 3-17.

Family Membership ($125) – This level membership allows admission for up to two (2) named adults and all children age 17 and under that reside in the same household as long as at least one of the adults checking in is an authorized, named adult cardholder on the membership record.

Family Access Membership ($45) – This level membership allows admission for up to two (2) adults and all children age 17 and under that reside in the same household as long as at least one of the adults checking in is an authorized, named adult cardholder on the membership record. Your family qualifies for this discounted membership if you are a Wisconsin resident that participates in Wisconsin Works, WIC, My WI Childcare, Wisconsin Quest, FoodShare, BadgerCare, or Medicaid. Proof of participation in one of the qualifying programs required.

Family Plus Membership ($165) – This level membership allows the same admission as the Family Membership level (two adults and all children 17 and under that reside in the same household) PLUS they get the benefit of one guest (adult or child) admission per check-in.

Grandparents Membership ($125) – This level membership allows admission for up to two (2) adults and all grandchildren age 17 and under (need not reside with grandparents) as long as at least one of the adults checking in is a grandparent that is an authorized, named cardholder on the membership record.

Grandparents Plus Membership ($165) – This level membership allows the same admission as the Grandparents Membership level (two adults and all grandchildren 17 and under) PLUS they get the benefit of one guest (adult or child) admission per check-in.

Descargue la información de membresía en español


Other policies and reminders for all membership levels:


Need to upgrade your membership?


For a list of the exciting benefits that all of our members receive, visit our Membership Page.

If you have additional questions or need clarification, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Membership Department. Our Membership Team is always happy to be of assistance. We hope to see you at Discovery World soon!

Discovery World Membership Department
414-765-8620
membership@discoveryworld.org

Give the Gift of Discovery World!

Let Discovery World help you give the perfect gift. We have wonderful options to provide fun and learning while helping create lifelong memories. So, let’s take a look at the possibilities:

Discovery World Gift Membership:

Discovery World Membership Gift Certificate:

General Discovery World Gift Certificate:

Please be aware that all Discovery World Gift Certificates must be safeguarded as they cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.

If you have any questions regarding which gift option best fits your needs or if you need clarification regarding the information provided, please do not hesitate to reach out. Our helpful Discovery World staff is always willing to help.

Published: November 5, 2019
Updated: January 21, 2020

Educator Community: Embracing Science with Julie Barnett

Welcome to the return of the Educator Community Blog. Today, we’ll sit down with Julie Barnett, our Discovery World Lab Educator and Lead Scout Educator. Julie has been working for Discovery World longer than any other educator, so let’s pick her brain about teaching, molecular gastronomy, and how girls will take over the science world!

Connor: So, let’s start with a simple question. How did you end up teaching at Discovery World?

Julie: Well, I earned my Elementary Education degree at Eastern Michigan University, over at Ypsilanti. I was there until I happened to meet my now-husband on an online text-based game called Into the Dragon’s Den. Before long, I moved to Wisconsin to be with him, and found myself needing a part-time job, which is when I came upon Discovery World. I started as a part-time scout educator, and eventually moved onto being a full-time educator.

C: Glad you decided to stick around. Can you tell us a little bit about the school labs you tend to teach?

J: Everything! I’ve been around long enough to get a pretty good grasp on most of the topics we offer school groups. From food sciences to robots to freshwater, I can lend a hand in pretty much whatever we need…as long as it’s not a dissection.

C: Agreed on that dissection part. Why do you think it’s important for students to learn a wide variety of science topics?

J:   Simply put, science explains “the why”. In cooking, it explains why the water boils and the meat cooks. In freshwater, it explains why some fish thrive while others don’t. It can be sooo much fun to introduce children to the exploration of “the why”. Science can help explain that particular magic that makes kids interested in topics, so exposing kids to a wide variety of topics early on can help them find their magic in “the why” for whatever topic they want. This, in turn, opens possibilities and the future.

C: Well, what are some of the best kinds of opportunities are there around Milwaukee for students to expand their interests?

J: Well, I can’t answer that question without giving a shout out to Discovery World. We have so many labs to offer students and teachers, there’s really something for everyone. That being said, I really believe that the best opportunities for students happen at home. So much of what can be discovered about the world around us can easily be introduced at home. All a child needs is an idea, a parent, and a sense of exploration. To any parents reading this, I would highly recommend introducing your kids to at-home experiments.

C: Alright, one last question. Since we just recently had our GIRLS and STEM event, any advice for our future female leaders in STEM?

A: Embrace science! I know that’s kind of an obvious thing to say, but there’s so much that girls can and will offer the world of STEM. Girls are starting to take over STEM by storm, so be sure to be a part of the change!

 

Teacher’s Corner: Big Changes Coming to Discovery World

Hello and welcome back! I hope everyone is looking forward to the 2018-2019 school year as much as we are. Discovery World has tons of new and exciting experiences lined up to amaze your students and expand their learning. Additionally, we have made some very important pricing changes this year. Keep reading to learn more about what Discovery World has in store for the coming school year!

For those of you who have been to Discovery World these past few months, you may have noticed we have some major changes coming to our building. The first part of this construction is our new permanent pavilion, officially titled “The Pavilion at Discovery World”, and is attached to the north side of the Technology Building. This building has officially been completed, and will house our new lunch room for the 2018-2019 school year. I know I’m incredibly excited for the completion of this new space, as it means our constant game of “musical lunchroom” has finally come to a close. Additionally, this is now the location where your school bus will drop off and pick up. All of the new drop-off/pick-up information can be found in detail on our Field Trip FAQ, which I highly recommend you read before your field trip!

In addition, we have a whole new exhibit area centered on energy coming soon, called “Power On!” In this brand new exhibit floor, students will have the opportunity to experience the power of energy in a multitude of engaging platforms. This exhibit should be ready for exploring sometime this fall. This link will give you a sneak-peak at what you and your school can look forward to. I can’t spoil too much about it, but we are beyond excited to share our work with you.

Lastly, some updates about Discovery World pricing. Due to the addition of both a new building and a new exhibit space, our school group prices will be increasing for all group visits scheduled for next school year. The new pricing rates will be as follows:

Pricing for movies, theater shows, and aquarium presentations will remain the same as this school year ($3/person for movies, $4/person for theater shows or aquarium presentation). However, we will be offering some special discounts for some of these programs in certain months, as follows:

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. We are INCREDIBLY excited to share what we’ve been working on, and we hope you and your students love it just as much as we do. I’ve been chomping at the bit waiting for school to start again, and I can’t wait to get back to doing what I do best: being a resource for you, the educator. As always, if you have any questions about what myself or Discovery World can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

-Connor

Posted: August 29, 2018

Teacher’s Corner: Meet Amber Ross, Discovery World’s Freshwater Educator

Meet Discovery World’s Freshwater Educator, Amber Ross. A graduate from Purdue University, Amber has channeled her passion for the outdoors into her role at Discovery World and now passes that knowledge onto students in our community. Read on to learn how she is molding Milwaukee’s future freshwater stewards.

Connor: So, let’s start with a simple question. How did you end up teaching at Discovery World?

Amber: Well, after I graduated from Purdue, I started working as an interpreter at a state park. I really enjoyed that position, being able to stay outside and work with a captive audience. From there, I hopped around various seasonal positions, until I eventually landed in Nature’s Classroom as an educator. I had always loved sharing the knowledge I knew, so Nature’s Classroom was a perfect fit for me, but after sometime I wanted something full-time. Flash-forward a few months and here I am!

C: And we’re happy to have you! Going off that first question, when did your interest in natural science come around?

A: Like most people, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do upon graduating high school. I had always loved being outdoors, so when I was accepted to Purdue, I went into their College of Agriculture program. In that program, I took a wide variety of natural science classes, many of those being freshwater related. All the exposure to those topics eventually grew into the position I’m in today.

C: Why do you think it’s important for others to learn about freshwater and natural science as well?

A: The simplest answer to that question is that freshwater sciences is a real life topic with real life consequences. We may not see it too much being on the shore of Lake Michigan, but freshwater sciences is a huge problem in many parts of the world. It comes down to resource management. Getting children to realize the weight of these issues at an early age is, to me, one of the best ways to help ensure a sustainable future.

C: Well, if a teacher did want to start digging into these topics, where could they look?

A: Thankfully, Milwaukee is an excellent location to learn about freshwater and natural sciences. There are tons of opportunities for them to educate their students, both in and out of the classroom. MMSD does educational tours on water reclamation, Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful does frequent beach clean-ups, UWM School of Freshwater Sciences has beautiful facilities. And of course, Discovery World has plenty to offer as well!

C: And what exactly do we offer here at Discovery World?

A: Our whole Aquatarium building is dedicated to educating the public about freshwater and natural sciences. From the Reiman Aquarium to the City of Freshwater exhibit, people can learn about how Milwaukee works to keep Lake Michigan a beautiful and sustainable resource. Additionally, we offer educational labs that cover a wide variety of freshwater topics, such as fish dissections and water pollution.

C: Alright, one last question. Any good piece of advice for our future scientists?

A: Of course! Easily the best piece of advice is to take your time in finding your passion. Once you find a topic you really love, chase it non-stop. With enough persistence, you’ll find a way to work how you love.

Five Fun Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About The Challenge

The Challenge has been part of Discovery World since almost the very beginning, and serves as centerpiece for the museum’s Aquatarium building.  But there are a cargo holds worth of facts that most people might not know about one half of Discovery World’s fleet, and here are a few of them to put you in the mood for maritime adventure!

  1. The Challenge was constructed by a team of sixteen volunteers in 2006, including a Master Shipwright named Rob Stevens, who was also one of the builders for the S/V Denis Sullivan.  If 2006 seems a little recent of a construction date for such a majestic (and large) sailing vessel, that’s because this Challenge is a replica of the original, which was constructed by shipwright William Wallace Bates in 1852.
  2. William Wallace Bates built the Challenge at the age of 25 with only an eighth grade education!  However, before you tell kids to drop out of school and focus on building ships, it should be noted that Bates was from a family of shipbuilders, and had spent much of his life around ships and shipbuilding.  He was able to design the Challenge to be a fairly advanced vessel for its time however, including specialized design elements to let it go into the many different water depths all over Lake Michigan.  But only Lake Michigan, as the Challenge was specifically designed to face the challenges of that particular august body of water, and not the different obstacles that the Atlantic Ocean presented.
  3. Discovery World’s team of volunteers were able to create such a lifelike replica in part because of the records that Bates left behind, including an article he wrote in 1856 about the Challenge. The modern day builders were able to match the size, type of wood used, and even the same type of planking design.  They even used period formulas to mix the paint, and the color scheme is taken directly from paintings of Great Lakes sailing vessels of the same type.  However, some aspects of the Challenge necessarily had to be changed.  Its scale is only about 85%, and the masts are only 22-foot tall instead of the 90 ft that the real Challenge would have possessed.  But even the design of the spine of the ship – the keel on the bottom – is accurate to the original vessel.
  4. Speaking of the original Challenge, Discovery World hears a lot of guesses as to what its role was on Lake Michigan – everything from passengers to food to pirate treasure (this last mainly from our younger guests).  But very few guess that its main cargo was wood products.  The growing communities of southern Lake Michigan, including Chicago and a little town we all call Milwaukee, needed huge quantities of planks, raw lumber, and even shingles to keep up with the demand from various builders and architects, and the Challenge was a part of the infrastructure that kept those demands fulfilled.  The Challenge was designed to go at a speed of fifteen mph without any cargo, and drop to nine mph when loaded with lumber.  And while this doesn’t sound very fast compared to our modern modes of transportation, in 1852 this speed was fast enough to earn the Challenge the nickname “The Belle of Lake Michigan” due to her speed and the regularity of her deliveries.
  5. While the Challenge was certainly a valuable and reliable part of Lake Michigan’s trading web, the vessel would experience her fair share of troubles.  Steering a sailing vessel is no easy task, and the Challenge did sometimes run into problems.  Sometimes literally.  She did run into other ships on rare occasions, and while many vessels can lay claim to the dubious honor of having run into (sand)bars, the Challenge is probably in a smaller category that have run into saloons.  While being towed up the Menominee River, the Challenge struck a riverside saloon and carried away 20 feet of the building!

Bonus Fact:  While the Challenge does sometimes look rather precarious hanging from a set of ropes attached to the ceiling, don’t worry!  Those are mainly for stability and decoration, and the ship is actually resting on a set of three concrete pillars attached to the building structure, giving it a much more secure perch while you explore!

The Challenge reopens on Saturday, October 24th!

Your entire family is invited to climb aboard the replica of a Great Lakes Schooner that sailed from 1852-1889. And because The Challenge will be unveiled during our Halloween celebration, you can be sure it’ll be decorated with fun and spooky decorations for all ages.

This blog was written by Discovery World’s Leif Mogren.

Teacher’s Corner with Connor: Start Fresh with the New Year

Hello educators! This is Connor McElveen, and you are reading the Discovery World Educator Community January Blog post.  I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday break and is staying warm in this dreary weather.

With the celebrations behind us, however, it’s time to focus on starting the new school year right. Even though the frigid weather can slow down your classroom in these first few weeks back, your friendly neighborhood Teacher Representative has a few tips and tricks to make sure the learning spirit never goes cold.

Teacher’s Corner with Connor: Five Field Trip Tips

Field trips. For some teachers, just seeing these words can jog memories of late busses and irresponsible chaperones. And that’s completely understandable; field trips can be a tricky trapeze walk of timing and cooperation. But as someone who works to organize and create enjoyable field trips for a living, I’ve picked up on a trick or two over the years. Below are some tips to help make your next field trip a success.

Answer a Question: When you’re picking a field trip site, you have to ask yourself a simple question: “What do I want my kids to learn from this?” Do you want them to learn about the history of Milwaukee? Do you want them to learn about the natural world, or how agriculture has affected today’s economy and ecosystem? Do you simply want your kids to have a blast? Whatever the answer to that question may be, it will help narrow your search immensely.

Book Early: The top reason teachers get turned away from field trips (on our end) is because the dates they want to visit are already booked and unavailable. Think of it this way: every day you’re thinking about booking that field trip, another teacher is writing the check. I recommend booking anywhere from three to six months in advance, even more for popular places. Additionally, if you really like the venue and are confident you’ll be visiting roughly the same time next year, let your contact know at the end of your trip. Most places love early reservations and will gladly save your spot for next year.

Read the Policies and Procedures: The necessary evil of booking field trips. Policies and Procedures are often seen as the “Terms of Agreement” of field trips, but I cannot stress how important it is that you look through any copy of Policies and Procedures you receive with the finest-toothed comb. These pages will contain information on cancellations, headcount changes, payment due dates, and all the other little details that could potentially create headaches if ignored.

Keep Parents & Chaperones Updated: When asking for chaperones, it’s very important that you receive their contact information, particularly their email. Make sure to update your chaperones with schedules, rules, and expectations multiple times before the start of the trip. A personal recommendation would be to ask for chaperones immediately after booking, either through child hand-out or email, and setting a hard cut-off date of three to four weeks before the date of the trip.

Know Your Plan for Food: Nothing will sour a day-trip quite like realizing you left the lunches at school. Many venues have limited eating space, so it’s very possible that your schedule for the day will be centered on your lunchtime. Make sure your adults know exactly what the plan is for lunch.

IS A DUAL MEMBERSHIP THE RIGHT FIT FOR YOU?

The Discovery World Dual Membership is great if you are looking to purchase a membership for just two people. While members know that they can use the Dual Membership for themselves and a spouse, or themselves and a guest, some might not know that this level is also a wonderful choice for one adult and one child!

There’s more! If you and your spouse have a child/children under the age of three, the Dual Level Membership may be right for you too! Children 2 and under are free here at Discovery World which means that you can always purchase a Dual Membership for yourself and your spouse and bring your 2 and under children along with you for free every time! Then simply upgrade to the Family membership when they turn three.

Our Dual Level Membership is flexible to provide just the right amount of access you need plus the ability to take advantage of all the perks a Discovery World membership has to offer! Wait, did we just say perks? Yes we did!

All of our Discovery World Memberships allow you to receive $6 flat rate parking in our underground garage, invites to all of our member only events like Member Halloween night or front row viewing of the Big Bang Fireworks, discounts on food from our café, and fun toys from the Discovery World Learning Shop, plus FREE reciprocal general admission to over 300 museums around the world!

For more details about membership levels, pricing and benefits please visit Discovery World’s Membership Page online. You can also purchase a membership through our online system and you can even give the gift of a Discovery World membership to your friends or family with just a few clicks!

Still not sure what level is right for you or your family? Have more questions about membership benefits? Just want to say hi to one of our wonderful Membership Specialists? Feel free to give us a phone call at 414.765.8620, email us at membership@discoveryworld.org, or stop by our Membership Desk at your next visit.

We hope to see you all soon!

-Membership Team

What’s the Difference Between a Family and Family Plus Membership?

Which One is Right for You?

Perhaps you already know that a Discovery World Family Membership is a great value for families who want to visit Discovery World multiple times throughout the year. Family memberships include invitations to special events like Lakefront Fireworks and Halloween Members Night, flat rate parking, and other sweet perks exclusive to members.

But how does a Family Membership differ from a Family Plus Membership? And which one is right for your family? Different families have different needs; so we’ve designed the Family Plus Membership with that in mind.

Ask yourself these three questions before deciding:

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the Family Plus option might be ideal for you!

So Now What?

You can set up your Family Plus Membership in a few different ways to admit a third adult:

If this option sounds perfect for your family, please join, renew or upgrade with “Family Plus” today! And if you are a grandparent, you may use the Grandparents Plus option in a similar way for an adult grandchild or guest.

FYI – Discovery World offers a courtesy discount of $5 off the regular price of admission for guests of members. There is no limit to the number of guests admitted with this discount, however, the guests must be admitted with the member(s) at the time of check-in.


Membership Check-In Information:


At Discovery World, we want every visit to start quickly and easily so you can begin to have fun ASAP!

The right membership level can ensure that every check-in is smooth and simple.

Questions? Please contact the helpful representatives in the Membership Department at 414-765-8620 or membership@discoveryworld.org.

We appreciate our members!

Join, Renew or Upgrade Today!

Come Aboard the S/V Denis Sullivan

Docked in front of Discovery World sits the only re-creation of a 19th Century three-masted Great Lakes schooner in the world – the Sailing Vessel (S/V) Denis Sullivan. The schooner was built by nearly 1,000 dedicated volunteers who generously gave more than one million hours over five years to see their big vision become a breathtaking reality.

Since her official launch in 2000, Discovery World’s tall ship has operated as a floating classroom, United Nations Environment Program flagship, ambassador for the State of Wisconsin, and has offered visitors of all ages fun and learning on Lake Michigan. Discovery World welcomes over 7,000 students, adults, and families onto the S/V Denis Sullivan deck annually. Visitors have the opportunity to engage in informative tours, exciting Public Sails, and overnight expeditions. Students participating have access to hands-on, freshwater science curriculum combined with the technical teachings of learning to sail a tall ship.

Our CEO, Joel Brennan, recently received two letters from friends who sailed the Denis Sullivan on a five-day cruise, fondly called the “Bucket List Sail.” Mark Obukowicz of Three Lakes, WI and Carlton Schroeder of Eagle River, WI, found the Denis Sullivan experience one like no other.

Schroeder describes the sail…”what a good time and experience it was for me to sail on the Denis Sullivan with Captain Tiffany and her crew. My buddy and I sailed on the Aug 13 – 18 Milwaukee to Duluth trip. It was a great experience even though the winds were light. I enjoyed every bit of it; especially the watch work with the crew members.”

Obukowicz had worked on the Bucket List sail from Milwaukee to Duluth previously, and found it to be a tremendous endeavor. “The sail was a most rewarding and memorable experience! I commend Captain Tiffany Krihwan and her entire crew of professionals for a job well-done. As a working passenger, I learned the rudiments of sailing and its associated responsibilities. In addition, there were many highlights for me during the voyage: viz, sailing across Lake Michigan in inclement weather; sailing at night under the Mackinac Bridge and past the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, passing through the Soo Locks, sailing amongst the Apostle Islands, having “shore leave” on Madeline Island, and an on-deck dinner and swimming option prior to weighing anchor and entering Duluth Harbor to the cheers of Tall Ships Festival attendees. The six days passed by so quickly.”

Schroeder also had great fun when they routed through the North East portion of Lake Michigan, the Straits of Mackinac, the St. Mary’s River and the Locks, and then through the Apostle Islands. He says, “I especially enjoyed the crew discussions and lessons about the DS and all her systems; hopefully I’ll retain a lot of that info. The data recording and location plotting on the navigation charts (part of our crew work) was interesting and fun for me.”

Discovery World staff and crew on the Denis Sullivan always like to hear that vessel goers enjoyed their experiences. We are also thrilled that passengers see the value in the ship and the resources that it provides the educational community in Milwaukee. According to Schroeder, ”I wanted to thank you for providing opportunities for school-age children to sail and experience time on board the Denis Sullivan. It is hard to imagine a more memorable experience.”

Just like Schroeder and Obukowicz, we recognize the value that the Denis Sullivan brings to Milwaukee. Sadly though, it costs Discovery World approximately half a million dollars to operate the schooner annually, but we only earn $350,000 to offset the costs. As such, we are hoping that those who love the Denis Sullivan and Discovery World will consider helping us reduce our operational gap and also help fund some much-needed improvements (rescue boat, life raft, second engine for the rescue boat, and five cold water immersion suits). If you’d like to make a donation to the S/V Denis Sullivan, please visit: https://www.crowdrise.com/friends-of-sv-denis-sullivan-giving-societys-2016-crowdsourcing-campaign/fundraiser/discoveryworld.

If you’d like to book Public Sail or Educational Sail, please contact our Reservations Department at reservations@discoveryworld.org or call 414-765-8625.

Sail on Denis Sullivan!

Traveling the Distance to Seek Out Automation Education

Global innovation has always been driven by creative leaders with strong connections to technology, engineering, and design. Early access to innovation is the first step in producing well-rounded individuals armed with creative tools and techniques that can help solve challenges faced by our community – and our world. Discovery World is our region’s foremost provider of public access to those tools and techniques, and we are making a difference by shaping our future workforce even as we entertain kids and families every day.

Our Education Team had a recent success story that is worthy of sharing about the efforts made by schools to seek out Discovery World automation education. During the 2015-2016 school year, we had a visit from students from Lena, WI, situated about three hours away from downtown Milwaukee. Unable to offer their students a similar experience at their school, the students and faculty left Lena at 6am and traveled to Discovery World to experience robotics in a new way. By all accounts, the students thoroughly enjoyed taking courses on Intro to Pneumatic Control and Applied Sensors in our Rockwell Automation Lab, led by our robotics educator.

Typically visited by schools closer to our doors, we are especially humbled by those who travel a further distance because they understand the value in STEM education and see our center as a worthy partner in providing that education. With that said, we want to give a big shout out to those students from Lena for coming to see us and also to Rockwell Automation for granting us the ability to provide exceptional robotics education to kids!

Pictured: Students learn automation and robotics in the Rockwell Automation Lab.

Thank You Volunteers! We Couldn’t Do It Without You.

Though we are thankful for our volunteers here at Discovery World each and every day, in light of National Volunteer Week, we would like to take a moment to extend a special thank you to the hundreds of individuals that make a difference at Discovery World each year.

Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about taking action, encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change—discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to foster positive transformation. We at Discovery World encourage you to take a moment this week to embrace the spirit of National Volunteer Week, and to explore volunteer opportunities in your community, whether at Discovery World, or elsewhere throughout the Milwaukee area.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Discovery World relies upon its dedicated volunteers in roles both behind-the-scenes, such as exhibit maintenance or office support, as well as with the public, assisting with educational programming, special events, as crew members aboard Discovery World’s tall ship, the Sailing Vessel (S/V) Denis Sullivan, and throughout our exhibit areas. To our volunteers, we cannot thank you enough—for the thousands of hours you have donated, whether hiding 20,000 Easter eggs throughout the museum for Discovery World’s Spring Fling Egg Hunt, or teaching guests about the human genome, and for your unwavering commitment to Discovery World’s mission to educate, motivate, and inspire the innovators and entrepreneurs of the 21st century.

To learn how you can become involved at Discovery World, as an individual, family or corporate team, contact Kelly Christman at volunteer@discoveryworld.org, or visit: https://www.discoveryworld.org/volunteer/

Get To Know Discovery World’s Education Team

Did you know that when Discovery World moved into its current location on the lakefront it was originally designed to house a charter high school? Ultimately this never came to fruition. However, the initial plans resulted in our Science & Technology Center having more academic space than many of the most notable science museums in the world.

From field trips to Summer Camp, Discovery World’s Education Team plays a vital role in separating us from the competition. So we wanted to give you a proper introduction to the team that is interacting with your students and helping our organization remain a valuable asset to our community.

Larissa Yankovich joined the team as the Manager of Education Programs after working for three years as a middle and high school teacher, first in France and then in the Milwaukee area. She is an advocate for hands-on learning and fostering multiple intelligences in young minds. Larissa works with educators and community partners to make unique educational programming come alive at Discovery World.

Exploring New Worlds: Larissa loves trying new things and has a continuously growing list of interests. She loves to run, box, crossword, indulge her sweet tooth, teach and travel! Her favorite place she’s been to is Amalfi, Italy. She loves working in a learning institution where she can learn and keep growing her list of interests!

Paul Mech, Manager of Curriculum & Program Development, has been with Discovery World since October of 2006 when he was hired as a part-time weekend educator. Paul’s obsession with learning and his varied educational background help him as he works with the Education Team to develop programs and experiences. If he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll find it.

Why He Works at Discovery World: Paul’s favorite part of Discovery World is that even though there are many science centers around the country, few offer their education teams the opportunity and freedom to develop the types of programs Discovery World can offer. Where else as an educator could you be dissecting a heart at 10:00, make an electromagnet at 11:00, and get some time in on a 3D printer after lunch?

Brittany Bruening studied Visual Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and brought her love of printmaking and design to the Scouting program at Discovery World where she originally worked as a part-time educator. She translated her expertise of creative problem solving from the art world to the education field in her new role of Education Coordinator.

Time for a Cat: Brittany loves sloths, gardening, and Summer Camp. She is hoping to adopt a cat in the near future.

Julie Schneider  is excited to work with the youth of Milwaukee, to provide intentional, and meaningful educational experiences, through the Teacher Representative role. Julie coordinates field trips, and works with educational grants. Prior to coming to Discovery World, Julie served two years as an AmeriCorps Member with City Year Milwaukee, and worked most recently with the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County. Julie is appreciative for the opportunity to continue to learn and be surrounded with curiosity.

Community Ties: Her favorite part of Discovery World is the connection it has built within the community. The museum has strong connections with businesses, events, and people that are important to Milwaukee. The fact that the museum has ties to Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls, Kohl’s, and Les Paul, is amazing and inspiring to anyone who visits Discovery World!

Julie Barnett graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Elementary Education. She is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts, having been involved since 1990 and earning her Gold Award in 2002. She is excited for the chance to bring Girl Scout and Boy Scout experiences to the Milwaukee area. She started at Discovery World in 2010 and currently teaches school labs, with a focus on chemistry, food science, technology, and general science classes.

Pushing Buttons: Julie’s favorite part of Discovery World is all the buttons to push! She loves how interactive the museum is and how an adult can have just as much fun as a kid. Working here has taught her that she will never stop learning: one day it’s how our sense of smell works and the next it’s all about DNA. Creativity and inspiration happen all the time at Discovery World.

Kevin Kolodziej has a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Structural Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He has been involved with the design of many glass structures around the country, including the John Hancock Center Tower Tilt.  In addition to his engineering experience, he has been involved with FIRST Robotics as a participant and mentor since 1999, has a passion for roller coasters and music, and even taught middle school robotics for a year. Kevin is excited to bring his vast experiences and share them with Milwaukee’s youth at Discovery World.

Never Stop Learning: “I love the diverse backgrounds of the people I get to work with on a daily basis. I am surrounded by people that can code, print, make, film, build, write, and create; and everyone is always willing to share their knowledge. I am in a very creative environment and I learn something new nearly every day.”

Andrew Wallus is a UW-Madison graduate in the field of Elementary Education with a varied background in Life Sciences, Graphic Arts and Language Arts. Prior to his arrival at Discovery World seven years ago, Andy worked for over a decade within the public school sector. Andy coordinates the Brady Intelligent Products Lab as an Educator and Curriculum Developer. Outside of the classroom, Andy works as a professional DJ, enjoys fly fishing, and freshwater surfs.

Surfs Up: Being part fish himself, Andrew’s fins-down favorite part of Discovery World is the aquarium exhibit. Since he’s lived near most of the ecosystems represented in the tanks, he enjoys walking through this space to revisit many of his favorite places.

Jon Wolent is a Marine Biologist that has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.  Previously he worked at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in Los Angeles, as an educator and aquarist.  He was part of a team that raised larval marine animals such as Garibaldi, Two-Spot Octopi, and sea jellies, as well as endangered animals like White Abalones, Pacific Sea Horses, and Giant Black Sea Bass.  Jon is excited to share his passion for the environment with the youth of Milwaukee.

Switch It Up: Jon was left handed for the first 6 years of his life, until he broke his arm. Afterwards, he relearned how to write and cut with his right hand.

Frequently Asked Scouting Questions and New Scout Programs!

Did you know that Discovery World offers special “Taste the Future” and “Spa Chemistry” Girl Scout Sleepovers? Or that Discovery World admission is included in the price of a Boy Scout Workshop for each participating Scout the day of a workshop?

With over 150 Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs, 16 Summer Camps, six Sleepovers, a Scouting Day with the Milwaukee Admirals, and a multitude of private workshops scheduled from January through August, it’s safe to say there is no shortage of opportunities available to local Scouts.

And with this extensive offering of programs often comes a handful of questions from our engaged Scouting community. Whether you’re interested in details of our new Bear Scout and Wolf Scout Elective Adventures, or you want to know if Scouts are required to wear their uniforms during Merit Badge Workshops, we have the answers for you!

Check out the video below for answers to the most frequently asked questions about Boy Scout and Girl Scouts Workshops, and everything in-between.

[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSDijqeMsnU”]

Are You a Friend of the S/V Denis Sullivan?

Take to the Waves for the 2015 Sailing Season

Exploration. Fun. Adventure. Education. A journey on Discovery World’s tall ship, the Sailing Vessel (S/V) Denis Sullivan is like nothing else in Milwaukee.

“Our purpose is to educate people from all over the region (and the world, really) about the Great Lakes and fresh water,” said Tiffany Krihwan, Captain of the S/V Denis Sullivan. “The ship is a bridge from our Great Lakes past to your Great Lakes future.”

Once upon a time, the Great Lakes were one of the most dynamic networks of trade and communication in the world. Milwaukee was one of the most important port cities on the planet. Each day, thousands of steamer ships and schooners traveled this rough and wild highway loaded with passengers, grain, coal, livestock, mail, and all the other goods and materials of the time.

The harbor here was a carnival of actions and transactions. The air was filled with the rough voices of dock workers hauling and hoisting, loading and unloading thousands of tons of freight. Closer to the water you could hear the snap of canvas as the sails of the Great Lakes schooners caught the wind. Everywhere you looked you would see hundreds of tall ships like the S/V Denis Sullivan, their keels slicing though the waves, bound for Chicago, Green Bay, Duluth, Detroit, Buffalo, and Toronto. These schooners were the trucks, trains, and telephones of the day, and their crews worked tirelessly to deliver their passengers and cargo and return safely home.

Fun & Learning on Lake Michigan

The S/V Denis Sullivan is the only replica of a 19th century three-masted Great Lakes schooner in the world. Since her official launch in 2000, the S/V Denis Sullivan, has operated as a floating classroom, a United Nations Environment Program flagship, and ambassador for the State of Wisconsin. Each year, over 7,000 students, families, and adults cross the S/V Denis Sullivan decks and engage in informative tours, educational day sails, and overnight expeditions. An experience on the Sullivan combines freshwater science curriculum with the technical teachings of learning to sail a tall ship and a unique perspective of the rich history, culture, industry, and importance of the Great Lakes and our world’s most important natural resource – freshwater.

Nearly 1,000 dedicated volunteers generously gave more than one million hours over five years to build the schooner and see their vision become a breathtaking reality. The S/V Denis Sullivan embodies the sweat, soul, and spirit of citizens who labored to help build the first tall ship in Wisconsin during this century and was ultimately designated as Wisconsin’s Flagship. Every time the S/V Denis Sullivan sails, she carries with her the pride of every volunteer, student, visitor, donor, and crew member who has supported this remarkable endeavor. Discovery World’s mission of freshwater education is possible in large part because of our S/V Denis Sullivan volunteers and donor contributions.

“An expedition on the Sullivan can be life changing. I remember a young woman from the MPS Explorers Program we did a number of years ago,” said Cpt. Krihwan. “She was quiet, but enthusiastic. What I didn’t know until she came back to volunteer on the Sullivan for a summer is that she had enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. Then she went to one of the maritime colleges. Today, she’s an inspector for the American Bureau of Shipping. In fact, she’ll be inspecting the Sullivan this summer. So yes, an experience on the Sullivan can absolutely change a life.”

You can help to continue the mission of fun and learning aboard the Sullivan by becoming a member of Friends of S/V Denis Sullivan Giving Society with a philanthropic donation, which goes to support Discovery World’s annual operating expenses of $500,000. In addition to knowing that your Discovery World donation directly supports the annual operation of, and our community’s educational access to, the S/V Denis Sullivan, you’ll also receive invitations to Discovery World events, special communication and updates from her Captain and the S/V Denis Sullivan crew, recognition as a Friend of S/V Denis Sullivan Giving Society in the annual report, and other S/V Denis Sullivan insider information throughout the year.

We hope all past, present, and future Friends of S/V Denis Sullivan will join us at Discovery World on Saturday, May 23, from 10am to 4pm for our annual S/V Denis Sullivan sailing season launch party. Meet Captain Tiffany and her fantastic 2015 crew, climb aboard for free deck tours, learn more about opportunities to sail with her on Lake Michigan this summer, and chat with representatives from our fundraising team to learn more about how your annual gift or estate pledge to support our S/V Denis Sullivan can make a difference.

Thank you! See you aboard the S/V Denis Sullivan soon!

Membership pays for itself in just two visits!

Membership is the best (and most cost-saving way) for your family to enjoy fun and learning throughout the year!

With all of our memberships you’ll receive free admission, program discounts, special member-only events, and more!

  • Free, Unlimited Daily Admission
  • Discounts on Programs
  • Advance Notice of Events and Programs
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Getting Here

We are located on Milwaukee’s lakefront with easy access on and off of the expressway.

500 N Harbor Dr
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Get Directions

General Admission

Adults $20
Child (3-17) $16
Child 2 & Under $Free
Senior (60+) $16
College Student* $14
Military Active and Veterans* $14

*Valid ID Required.

Prices are subject to change. Click HERE to buy tickets and for important information you need to know before visiting. 

Current Hours

Wednesday-Sunday: 9am-4pm
Tues-Fri -
Sat & Sun -

Getting Here

We are located on Milwaukee’s lakefront with easy access on and off of the expressway.

500 N Harbor Dr
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Get Directions
Adults $20
Child (3-17) $16
Child 2 & Under $Free
Senior (60+) $16
College Student* $14
Military Active and Veterans* $14
Military* Active Duty & Veterans $14

*Valid ID Required.

Prices are subject to change. Click HERE to buy tickets and for important information you need to know before visiting. 

Current Hours

Wednesday-Sunday: 9am-4pm
Tues-Fri -
Sat & Sun -
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