Science Theatre Has Pirate Science Show

Monday, June 25, 2007
Captain Karen is full of pirate information. Click to enlarge.
Captain Karen is full of pirate information. Click to enlarge.

The Science Theatre, located at Northgate Mall, makes science come alive year-round for school groups, home school groups, and birthday parties through interactive science shows on a variety of topics and through laser shows. Shows are scheduled for 15 people or more, but anyone can attend a scheduled show, except birthday parties.

Creative Discovery Museum Science Theatre is sponsored by NewsChannel 9, EPB, AmSouth Bank and Northgate Mall.

This summer, from June through August, Monday through Friday, the Science Theatre has added Pirate Science to its lineup. The theatre has been fitted out with a pirate ship, a treasure chest, a skeleton and various other pirate necessities.

And Pirate Science has a captain who knows both science and boats. Captain Karen, alias Karen Dewhirst, Science Theatre Manager, lived on a boat for a year in high school. And when she was in college at UT-Knoxville, she spent six weeks looking for whales on a three-masted barquentine called the Regina Maris.

Decked out in pirate costume, Captain Karen begins each show by giving everyone an eye patch and asking them to put it over an eye. "That makes them all pirates," she said. Every pirate needs an eye patch, according to Captain Karen. But it's not because they're missing an eye.

"After a few minutes, I turn off all lights so it's really dark. Then I tell them to uncover the eye that's under the patch and see what happens. All of a sudden they can see. The eye under the patch has gotten used to being in the dark and the pupil has opened up to let in more light. When pirates had to go down into the ship, it was really dark. If they kept one eye covered by the patch when they were outside, they could lift up the patch when they went below decks and be able to see without waiting for their eyes to adjust."

As the show continues, Captain Karen has her pirate audience search for treasure with a map and a compass. "We talk about how a compass works by pointing north because of the earth's magnetic field.," she said.

She also takes her audience of pirates through a lightning storm at sea, with real lightning created inside the theatre by a "Tesla Coil" that generates a million volts of static electricity.

"The Tesla Coil builds up a charge and shoots out these really cool blue-ish purple bolts of static electricity, which is exactly what lightning is," she said.

Later the pirates take a prisoner. "We take someone from the audience and put them inside a special metal cage, called a Faraday Cage. Since we have this Tesla Coil that creates lightning, we try to use it to vaporize them. We shoot lightning at them, but the metal of the cage stops the lightning, and we talk about how that works."

There's much more to Pirate Science. "We also talk about the Bernoulli principle, which explains how the wind in a sail moves the ship and why a ship needs a keel. And we talk about buoyancy and about what the parts of a ship are called," said Captain Karen.

But what about the "poop deck"? What's the secret? "That really is where pirates used the bathroom! They didn't have plumbing onboard the ship," she said.

Pirate Science shows are scheduled for groups of 15 people or more. But even if you don't have enough for a group, you can attend any scheduled show, except birthday parties. So far, at least 12 shows have been scheduled between mid-June and late July. To schedule a show or attend one, call the Science Theatre, 875-8522.

Scheduled shows:
June 26 -- 10:30 and 1
June 27 -- 10
June 29 -- 1:30
July 10 -- 9:30
July 12 -- 10
July 13 -- 1:30
July 25 -- 10:30
July 27 -- 2

Shows cost $3.50 per student, $5 per adult, with discounts if you schedule more than one show at a time. The Creative Discovery Museum Science Theatre is located inside Northgate Mall in Hixson off Highway 153 between I-75 and US-27. The entrance is at the back of Northgate Mall, between Belk and JC Penney. The Science Theatre is in a different location than the Creative Discovery Museum, which is in downtown Chattanooga. Science Theatre admission is not included in Creative Discovery Museum admission.

Each child is given an eye patch to wear during the show.  Click to enlarge.
Each child is given an eye patch to wear during the show. Click to enlarge.

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