Clicking on the Web: New exhibits at Science Museum

Last week, we talked about a new exhibit coming to the Minnesota History Center.

Howard Lestrud
Howard Lestrud

This week, we will write about a couple of dazzling exhibits at the Science Museum of Minnesota located at 120 W. Kellogg Blvd. in St. Paul.

We as Minnesotans and visitors can be very proud of our historical sites throughout the state.

The Science Museum of Minnesota has consistently provided exihibits and displays that are appealing to the young and old alike.

Go to the Science Museum website at

In this Clicking on the Web piece, I will discuss two exhibits and explore some history of the Science Museum of Minnesota.

The exhibits are Tornado Alley, featured at the OmniTheater, and the Lost Egypt exhibition which opens on Oct. 13.

If you visited the Minnesota State Fair late this summer, you may have seen a very unusual looking tank type of vehicle called VORTEX2.

Two of the vehicles were located on the fair grounds. I had a chance to look at the military looking vehicle at the Fox 9 news site.

Tornado Alley

Let’s read from the Science Museum website: “In Tornado Alley, you’ll join ‘Storm Chasers’ star Sean Casey and the researchers of VORTEX 2, an ambitious project that seeks to understand the origins and evolution of tornadoes, on a heart-pounding science adventure through the “severe weather capital of the world.”

“Armed with an IMAX camera, a fleet of customized vehicles designed to withstand gale force winds, torrential rains and unrelenting hail, and an arsenal of the most advanced weather measurement instruments ever created, Casey and the VORTEX2 researchers will attempt to surround tornadoes and the supercell storms that form them, gathering the most comprehensive severe weather data ever collected.

“The ultimate goal? A better understanding of how tornadoes form and, hopefully, increased warning times to protect the people in their awesomely destructive paths.

“Get a close-up look at the relentless strength of nature’s most dramatic — and least understood — weather phenomena from the comfort and safety of your Omnitheater seat.

“The state-of-the-art, 90-foot domed screen is the perfect place to witness never-before-captured tornado footage. Hold on tight — Tornado Alley just might blow you away!”

Tornado Alley is now showing in the Omnitheater through June 20, 2013.

To learn more about VORTEX2, go to

Read this description of VORTEX2: It is the largest tornado research project in history to explore how, when and why tornadoes form.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are supporting more than 100 scientists and students and staff from around the world to collect weather measurements around and under a supercell thunderstorm.

VORTEX2 teams are using a fleet of 10 mobile radars, and 70 other instruments all equipped with cutting-edge communication and computer technologies.

Much about tornadoes remains a mystery, and researchers hope this data will help them better understand tornadoes and lead to further improvements in tornado warning skill.

In 2009, the VORTEX2, or V2, “armada” roamed more than 10,000 miles across the southern and central Plains from May 10–June 13, 2009.  Data were collected on 11 supercells, including one tornadic supercell.

VORTEX2 research teams made science history by strategically deploying all instruments on a tornadic supercell.

Detailed data were collected from 20 minutes before the tornado formed until it faded away.

This tornado is now the most intensely examined tornado in history. VORTEX2 operations for 2010 are scheduled from May 1- June 15.

Results from VORTEX2 will be evident in the coming years as researchers study the collected data and use it to enhance cloud models needed for the new warn-on-forecast effort.

V2 is funded by the National Science Foundation offsite link warning (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Lost Egypt

The hidden stories and artifacts of a lost civilization will help you unearth the secrets of ancient Egypt.

This exhibit opens at the Science Museum of Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 13.

In Lost Egypt, you’ll get a glimpse of the science and technology that modern archaeologists use to reconstruct life in ancient times.

This hands-on exhibition features an authentic human mummy as well as animal mummies, scans, forensic facial reconstruction and — for the first time ever — life-size rapid prototypes, displaying a mummy in various stages of “unwrapping.”

You’ll also find a re-creation of an Egyptian tomb and authentic art and artifacts from the daily life and funerary culture of ancient Egypt.

Explore how artifacts and other material remains contribute to our scientific understanding of past cultures, and see firsthand how science changes over time as new techniques are developed and new information is uncovered.

The Science Museum history is recounted on the Science Museum website:

“The Science Museum of Minnesota, founded in 1907, is a large regional science museum located on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul.

“The Science Museum’s programs combine research and collection facilities, a public science education center, extensive teacher education and school outreach programs, and an Imax Convertible Dome Omnitheater to provide science education to our audience of more than a million people per year.

“The Science Museum’s building is 370,000 square feet, built into the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.

“The museum’s 70,000 square feet of exhibition space includes a 10,000-square-foot temporary exhibit gallery and five permanent galleries covering the topics of paleontology, physical science and technology, the human body, peoples and cultures of the Mississippi River, and the museum’s collections.

“The Mississippi River flows just outside the windows of the museum and past the museum’s ten acres of outdoor exhibits and programming space.

“The Science Museum of Minnesota employs over 600 full- and part-time staff and is supported by more than 1,000 dedicated volunteers.

“The Science Museum of Minnesota is known worldwide for its interactive exhibits, dynamic traveling exhibitions, and internationally distributed large format films. . .”

Editor’s note: Howard Lestrud is ECM online managing editor.