The word paludarium comes from the Latin word ‘palus’ meaning marsh or swamp and ‘–arium’ meaning enclosed container. How many species did you find in the Paludarium in the museum lobby? Did you see the big angelfish? Were you lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a crab hiding in the moss on the rocks? The Paludarium is a living ecosystem where all of the living elements (mosses, plants, crabs, and fish) and non-living elements (the water, air, and rocks) interact with one another and are linked through nutrient cycles and energy flows. The balance of the ecosystem is supported each day with just a little food for the fish.
Use your cell phone to transform an entire silo into a dazzling light show! Several thousand lights illuminate when you use a mobile phone in the vicinity of the exhibit.
Every single mobile phone transmits radio waves to connect to a cellular network, and every day millions of people around the world broadcast their conversations across these invisible waves. Tiny sensors in this exhibit detect and convert the invisible electromagnetic waves from a cell phone into another frequency, the range of visible light. Thousands of sensors incorporated in the display are tuned to detect the phone’s electromagnetic radiation.
Movement of underground water through big caves and tiny cracks and crevices in rocks is the often invisible part of the water cycle. In this exhibit, while in a 40-foot-tall silo, you will be immersed in an aquifer and experience the great cycle of water – from the air to the ground, deep into the earth and back into the sky.
Put mathematics, art, and biology together and you get this model based on Romanesco Broccoli. The broccoli takes the form of a fractal – a complex geometrical shape that looks the same at every scale factor. Though the exhibit has an infinitely increasing perimeter, you’ll be surprised to know that it has no area as the dimensions of each fractal become so small they advance into nonexistence! The unique structure of the Fractalarium will tempt your curiosity as it conveys the geometric rhythms of energy that harmonize the universe into pattern, life and consciousness. Looking at this masterpiece is quite literally looking at infinity!
Local high school student, Dalton S., takes K'NEX construction to a whole new level with his amazing and complex K'NEX sculpture! Located in the main lobby, the sculpture will mesmerize you right when you walk inside. The constant motion of the ferris wheel and tiny ball traveling through the structure is enrapturing--come see for yourself!
Enjoy the peace and serenity within this silo created by Wimberley artist, McKay Otto. It serves as a multidimensional space for meditation, reflection and self discovery. Tapping into elements of Eastern religion, the seven chakras of the body are represented in paintings with corresponding Tibetan singing bowls. Explore the ways in which Otto experiments with light and sound vibrations to create a complex and beautiful exhibit that fills the entire 40-foot silo. Learn more here.
Normally you’re not supposed to play with your food, but the opposite is true here! Compose a masterpiece or play your favorite tune on our amazing Banana Piano. This science relies on the human body’s ability to conduct small amounts of electricity. Play any fruity tune your heart desires!
Step up to the control table and accept the challenge to manage the supply of electricity across homes and businesses in a virtual town. This interactive game will keep you on the move with quick thinking while teaching you the pros and cons of energy resources such as coal, natural gas, wind, nuclear, and solar power. Slide the levers and rotate the dials as you experience firsthand how our power grids, along with a variety of energy inputs, are used to supply electricity across the nation.
Play and experiment with tiny building blocks of life by mixing atomic combinations of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, fluorine and chlorine. Enjoy the surprises as you create a variety of molecules found in nature and see their animations unfold on screen. Your chemistry concoction could do anything from allowing us to breathe to creating an explosion!
A visit to this exhibit allows you to interact with human and animal bodies like never before. The Virtual Body exhibit is a unique tool that allows people to explore different structures of the human body, as well as a lion, moose, grey seal, golden eagle and chimpanzee. Using hand gestures and a 60-inch touchscreen display, viewers can swipe, zoom and slice the images to gain a deeper understanding of the functions and processes inside the body. The visuals on display were collected using computerized tomography (also known as CT) scan technology that captures a series of image ‘slices’ to create the overall 3D image.
Do you love robots or have you wondered how they work? Sharpen your robotic skills at this exhibit by giving computerized commands to robotic animals and watch as the critters rattle, scratch and bellow their way into your heart. Each animal will move according to the instructions you give through blocks of text or computer commands, called a program.
Build a custom race car at the pit garage and race against others on a 25-foot track in this exciting design-build challenge. Learn the basics of simple machines and think like an engineer to build a speedy car. With this exhibit, you’ll build an awesome 3D puzzle that comes to life with speed when placed on the track!
Something’s gone wrong with your avatar! Can you find the DNA contaminate in it? Computers and DNA make the perfect team to help you with this mystery! This exhibit is designed to show you how scientists are using super-fast computers to unlock the genetic code of living organisms.
Bang! That’s the power of Chemistry. In this explosive example of water electrolysis, you’ll experience firsthand the transformation of electrical energy into chemical energy. Start the electrical current flowing in electrodes inside the clear flask of water. The electrical current splits the water molecules into two elements: hydrogen and oxygen. Once the hydrogen gas has been collected and loaded in the launch chamber, prepare to be amazed. The hydrogen gas combusts in a chemical explosion that launches a ping-pong ball up with a surprising bang!
The classic, old-fashioned windmill of rural backdrops gets an overhaul in this experimental exhibit allowing you to change the size and shape of turbine blades to generate maximum power. You will get to explore the amazing power of wind, an important resource for energy. Your challenge is to find the blade configuration that produces enough power to light up all three houses at once.
Do you love music? If so, you probably know that there is so much more to sound than just hearing it--you can feel and see it too! Touch a speaker and feel sound wave vibrations change as the frequency changes. Watch straws jump and dance to rock, classical and hip hop. The music is so moving that objects actually move!
If you’ve ever wanted the power of telekinesis, this is the game for you! But can you control the electrical signals in your brain? Square off with your opponent in this exciting challenge that measures your ability to FOCUS and RELAX. Slip on the bio-sensor headband and watch as a small white ball travels across the table according to the brain waves of you and your opponent. A large monitor will display both players’ brain activity in this ultimate game of mind control.
Come play with electricity at our AC/DC electricity exhibit. This station offers an introduction to designing electrical systems through creating and controlling electrical circuits. Choose from a series of "experiments," built around the basics of AC and DC electricity. You’ll be SHOCKED at how easy, cool, and safe the experiments are! (ba-dum-dum)
Have you ever wanted to view Earth from outer space? No space shuttle needed to view a dazzling display of multimedia on our four-foot-diameter sphere representing Earth. This globular theater experience will cover a wide variety of topics including oceanic, atmospheric and geosciences. If a big weather event is headed our way, you’ll be able to view the real-time weather data leading up to the event.
Challenge your friends to an old fashioned match in tug-of-war on this giant lever exhibit. As each side tugs the rope you’ll quickly learn that the two sides are not equal. Can you figure out why?
Ahoy, matey! Come set sail with us and experiment with wind and air pressure. Be the captain of your own boat by controlling the wind and sail positions to watch your vessel journey across the sea. Shiver me timbers, that’s one fast boat!
Run your hands through real sand, forming mountains, rivers, lakes and dams in this interactive, augmented reality exhibit. Bring the concepts of geology, watersheds, erosion and topographic mapping to life while you create virtual topography in real time. Hold your hand above the sand to cast a shadow, causing virtual rain to fall from a virtual cloud. Carve a river in the sand and build a dam and watch as the water flows according to your design.
The surface of this interactive game is filled with ultrabright LED lights that respond to motion according to Conway’s Game of Life. Wave your hand over empty spaces to bring cells to life, and watch as this electric petri dish is animated according to Conway’s rules. See how you perform in the Game of Life!
This mini architectural scale model of the Science Mill allows visitors to input the amount of rainwater surface collection area and simulated rainfall to see how many gallons can really be collected from the roof. The stunning detail of the model and representation of water conservation are complemented by the Science Mill’s 9600 gallon rainwater collection tank that can be seen right outside the window. The real rainwater has important uses such as outdoor irrigation and in the Zebrafish and Paludarium exhibits.
Remember Spirograph? Come try our new WonderGraph, a mesmerizing combination of physics, art and math!
Connect, Spark, Flow--These are the names of each of the three panels comprising Realms, the digital holographic display created by Austin artist Sally Weber for the Science Mill. She thinks of matter as dense light, which is why finite points of light compose the objects in the panels. Solidity is displayed as translucent in this exhibit as light is manipulated. These images were created using a circular grid modeled from an astrolabe, the first instrument to map the dome of the heavens on a flat surface. Looking into each panel reveals an image that extends far beyond the frame, and infinity seems to fall away below the viewer’s feet!
Deve into the world of complexity contained within the Kinetic Ball Sculpture. All ages will be mesmerized by the ball weaving throughout the structure and navigating between the delicate metal designs on its intricate path. Where will it go next? Head outside in the backyard and find out!
This exhibit will blow your mind as you put on special glasses and are suddenly thrust into an awesome 3D virtual reality! Our zSpace 3D Virtual Reality exhibit allows users to learn in one of the coolest ways imaginable as there are a multitude of different realms to explore. Users will have the opportunity to investigate unique architecture, robotics, the life cycle of a butterfly, a human heart--the fun and discovery is seemingly endless!
In the biology lab you see what some real-life biologists do in laboratories. These biologists discover new ways to treat diseases, see how these tiny beings can make electricity, and how microorganisms that share our world have developed completely different ways of breathing and living. All this is experienced in our biology lab and is only a sampler of all the amazing and exciting things biologists do.
We always hear about how bacteria are gross and make us sick, but in reality most of them are extremely beneficial! In just these two columns, the areas of purple, green, and orange contain millions of different types of bacteria. Many of these non-dangerous, beneficial little microbes are necessary for the environment and for the health of animals, including humans. Use the app to play with and explore amazing bacteria!
The Gases of Life exhibit makes the invisible visible! Four stations display different gases that are necessary for survival. Watch plants exhale oxygen as little bubbles floating to the surface of the water due to photosynthesis. Explore the breakdown of sugars by yeast in fermentation by checking the carbon dioxide sensor. How does the carbon dioxide level outdoors compare to indoors? Discover for yourself by reading it on a different sensor in the lab! The last station takes you on a gases journey as you climb onto a bike and pedal. What happens to the level of carbon dioxide in your breath? Check by breathing into a tube that will digitally measure it before and after exercising!
We spend so much time looking at our cell phones, why not be a scientist while doing so? Line up your phone’s camera with the microscopic lens built into the plexiglass to examine an array of items on different slides. Experiment with focusing the image on your screen, either by adjusting the glass or tapping your phone. Digitally explore the wonders of microscopic worlds, all in the palm of your hand. Snap a photo and share with friends! #sciencemill
Come meet our Zebrafish team! They’ll greet visitors entering the BioLab from their special tank system. These Zebrafish help scientists understand developments, genetics, and human health through experimentation as the tank system allows the fish to be bred. Come see for yourself--are they spawning or seeking food? You can also check out their brain activity that is displayed above in a video using microscopy and genetic technology!
Zebrafish are very special and important for scientific discovery! Scientists study them and their genome to better understand cancer, heart disease, and brain function. Their fertilized eggs are perfect for studying as they are transparent and develop rapidly, allowing the fish to hatch in days! Using the app, you are the scientist and can gather data by taking the pulse of a developing Zebrafish embryo with the video microscope. How close was your recording compared to the rest of the data?
Bacteria may be tiny, but they are just as alive as us and need to breathe! Instead of oxygen, these microbes breathe in iron and release electrons. By utilizing electrodes of carbon and connecting wires, the electrons can be directed to flow in a circuit and a living battery is created! These microbial fuel cells can be used to power remote scientific instruments in the ocean. Just how much power do we get from these batteries? Check out the sensor for yourself!
Art, engineering, and environmental science all combine forces to create the unique Atomic Jellyfish sculpture! The exhibit was created by Kerrville artist John Self using a wide variety of reclaimed materials. This jellyfish displays the hidden beauty that is revealed when bringing unlikely parts together and provides an innovative use for items previously considered useless.
Water may look clear, but there are actually billions of tiny organisms living in lakes, creeks, and other bodies of water! Explore the plethora of microscopic life contained within small samples we have collected from various areas, including our own Town Creek behind the Science Mill. There are entire water worlds in every sample with wonders waiting to be discovered!
The bigger the better! Magnify your perspective of tiny animals and parts of plants in order to uncover their amazing intricacies. This exhibit allows all ages to discover!
You are the engineer AND the builder! Construct your own impenetrable fort, or sculpt a throne to rule them all. Which structures will stand and using what shapes? The possibilities are endless and even more fun with friends or family members to help you out! Mosey on over to the terrace outside and take in some fresh Johnson City air while building your own castle.
Fun with physics! This wheel versus wheel race to the bottom of the incline will leave players reeling as they try to figure out the best way to distribute the wheel masses in order to make their wheel travel faster. Experiment with inertia to manipulate the acceleration, and position the wheel just right to beat your partner!
Double the sides, double the fun! Each side of this exhibit brings mechanics and engineering to life and represents some of the mechanical processes that moved grain around the historic Mill. On the Magnetic Ball Wall side, visitors will use levers, magnetic ramps, and a variety of other tools to maneuver a ball through the surprisingly complex structure. The other Gear Wall side engages visitors by challenging them to experiment with combining gears in different ways to move “grain” and turn the windmill. Creativity and problem-solving juices will be flowing as visitors take on the daily challenges posted for each wall!
The toddler space is an age appropriate, safe space in the Mill for infants and toddlers to play. Climbing structures, sensory objects, and crawl spaces are the attraction for visitors ages 0-3. Click here for more information.
The Dream TableTop makes learning computer science fun by teaching abstract computer science concepts in an exciting and innovative way! It is an interactive tabletop experience that combines puzzle pieces with virtual environments, allowing children to explore different combinations of physical puzzle blocks to create a variety of different virtual scenarios. Make the chameleon rainbow colored and wave, make it grow five times bigger and jump, or combine all of them together! There are many properties to explore in this rich learning environment (it’s fun for adults too!).
Visitors will adventure into another world in our state-of-the-art 3D theater, whether it be ten times smaller, in the depths of the ocean, or sometimes not even on this planet! Each 20-minute film shown will only be featured for a limited time so be sure to check here for more details.
The word “pendulum” derives from the Latin pendulus, or ‘hanging down.’ However, the Wave Pendulum takes hanging down to a whole new level--12 new levels, to be exact. Twelve pendulums of increasing lengths are simultaneously released but have radically different outcomes as time progresses! The laws of physics artfully construct changing patterns with the 12 silver balls. Can you figure out why this happens?
A Mill in Time is a series of photographs that depicts the history of Johnson City and the mill’s transformation throughout the years. The mill initially was established by the founder of the town, James Polk, Johnson, but it transformed over the years as the town changed due to economic and technological developments.