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Students become ‘MythBusters’ at MOSI

 

College students aren’t often asked by their science professors to dodge a bullet, but the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is prepared to let curious students give it a shot at “MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition.” 

The exhibit is based on the popular Discovery Channel show “MythBusters,” and features interactive experiments, live demonstrations and props from the show.

Shannon Herborn, MOSI’s communications manager, said the museum decided to host the exhibit because of a shared philosophy.

“The goal of MOSI is to bring science to the masses and make it enjoyable to everyone. That’s exactly what MythBusters has done,” she said. “It’s brought science to a pop culture level where anyone can understand, enjoy and appreciate it.”

The exhibit, like the show, aims to verify scientific beliefs in popular culture, such as the possibility of throwing playing cards with deadly force and precision, or pulling a tablecloth from under a dinner set without any plates falling.

Additionally, the exhibit challenges visitors to confirm or deny these myths firsthand. Some experiments have no certain conclusion, such as a test where visitors either run or walk through a simulated rainstorm to see if running results in getting less wet.

Visitors are asked to record their results. Then MythBusters, as part of a large sample experiment, will compile the data and make a deduction.

Daniel Sweet, a junior majoring in computer science, said he thought the exhibit wasn’t a dumbed down version of science for the masses. 

“The core fundamentals of the scientific method are there, and that’s the important part,” he said. “You think of a hypothesis, design the experiment and test things yourself. If it doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board.”

The exhibit presents innovative engineering, such as a personal-sized tornado shelter featured on the show, while also requesting guests engineer their own solutions.

Sweet said he spent almost an hour building a miniature house out of stone and wax, yet durable enough to resist strong gusts from a wind tunnel.

“It’s small scale engineering, but it uses the same basic principles as large scale engineering,” he said. “It’s getting experience on the small scale with how science interacts with things in the real world.”

Some of the exhibits, he said, are less practical. This include experiments such as how long a person can hang off the edge of a cliff, or whether a person can drive a car blindfolded while a friend shouts directions, which are intended to debunk what is seen in popular movies and television.

“We know it is a kid’s exhibit, but who cares? It’s fun,” Sweet said. “Stuff like MythBusters is great because it draws the kids in and still teaches them.”

Sweet said MythBusters influenced him as a kid toward pursuing a career in science, and hopes it will do the same for a new generation of possible scientists. 

“Ultimately it comes down to whether their parents help them get engaged with science,” he said. “There’s only so much public school can give you.”

MOSI is the only one of fifteen stops for “MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition,” but the only one in Florida. The exhibit will remain at MOSI until May 8. Adult tickets cost $24.99.