I had a really special opportunity this evening for some advanced information about the new science education wing being built adjoining the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh (affectionately called "the dinosaur museum" by many local families due to the rooftop glass dome where pterosaurs can be seen circling the fierce Acrocanthosaurus fossil known as the "Terror of the South). The new section, currently called the Natural Resources Center (although that name may change), is an 80,000 square foot addition that will house labs, interactive exhibits, live presentations, and classes geared towards middle school students and up. There will be a four-story, round multimedia presentation area called The Daily Planet that will introduce visitors to science research and topical scientific discoveries.
As explained by the museum staff, the existing museum was designed to answer "What Do We Know About Science?" The new component will answer a different question: "How Do We Know It?" The new center will give students a chance to really delve into the meat of scientific inquiry through classes and interactive labs that let them use real lab equipment to collect data, make predictions, and find out results of current scientific investigations.
Another facet of the new building is that it is designed and being constructed with the latest in green technologies. We were fortunate enough to get to hear from the architect about how the floor plans had been designed to maximize natural lighting (through windows with super-efficient glass, so that they save energy costs as well as let in light), how the rainwater will be collected and recycled to flush toilets and water plants, and how environmentally-friendly building materials are coming from local sources, saving transportation costs of the supplies.
For more information on the facility, or to see the architects' drawings and visualizations, visit their website at:http://naturalsciences.org/nature-research-center/how-do-we-know.
It looks like it will be a fantastic place for people from all over to visit, but those of us who live in the area will be particularly fortunate to have such a cutting edge learning and research facility easily available to our children