Minnesota Children’s Museum Brings the Science Behind the Thrills to Mall of America®

by | Feb 15, 2017 | MCM at MOA, Press Release |

WHAT: Minnesota Children’s Museum is partnering with Twin Cities Trapeze and high school robotics teams to combine play, science and exploration at Mall of America® for Target Free Sunday.

All day, families can play for free at the “pop-up” museum crafting medieval quests in The Amazing Castle, learn through play the science behind the thrills with Twin Cities Trapeze Center and area robotics teams.

Twin Cities Trapeze Center Performances and Kid-Friendly Activities:  11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

  • Enjoy static trapeze, lyra hoop, juggling and acrobatics performances
  • Kid-friendly fun with scarves, hula-hoops and ribbon-wands

Robotics Team Demonstrations:

Families will be able to check out local robotics team robots, watching demos of their creations along with opportunities to ask questions and learn more about how robots are designed and created.

At noon and 2 p.m., the Prior Lake team will host a FIRST Tech Challenge — a robotics competition that allows students to compete head to head using a sports model.

WHEN: Sunday, February 19, 2017. Museum is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

WHERE:  Mall of America, Rotunda and “Pop-Up” Minnesota Children’s Museum in 355

 PHOTO/VIDEO: Media invited to the “pop-up” museum all day and in the rotunda from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.


The Scientist of the Circus

How many engineering professors do you know that both understand the science of circus and regularly soar through the air on a trapeze? Meet one who does both. Dr. AnnMarie Thomas is an Associate Professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering and Opus College of Business, director of the Playful Learning Lab, a circus student and one of the museum’s Successful People Play members.

Energy:  “Did you eat breakfast today?”

We eat food to give us energy, which allows us to move, think, and jump! In Physics, we say energy is the capacity to do work, or movement. So if we don’t eat, we don’t get enough energy… which would be a big problem for a circus performer. In circus arts, performers use energy in different ways. All of the performances involve transforming the chemical energy from the food we eat into motion. Circus performers also use other forms of energy like spring potential energy, in trampoline acts, and potential and kinetic (moving) energy which you’ll see in trapeze acts.


Balance is important for many of our acts. If you stand on one foot you need to be careful to line up your body so that most of the weight is in a straight line above your foot. If you lean to one side, what happens? You fall over. This is the same concept performers use on the tightrope or when walking on stilts. Circus performers are very aware of their bodies and have trained hard to be able to make small adjustments to their positions which can lead to exciting tricks, especially when they are on a piece of equipment like the flying trapeze.

Juggling on Parabolic Paths

Juggling is dependent on the parabola shaped path the balls/pins take. Jugglers expect the balls to take a certain path depending on how they throw them, and not be surprised! Why is that? Well, the balls have mass, and science allows us to solve for the equations of motion to predict where the balls will go so that we can time their tricks. It’s not that they spend time calculating this… instead they practice hard so that they learn the motions. If they change balls, maybe to a heavier or lighter one, or to a scarf which is light and has lots of surface area, the timing of the trick changes.

Hula Hoops use Momentum

If you slow down, it becomes harder. However, when the hoop is moving rapidly, there is a lot of momentum due to the mass and the velocity.


About Minnesota Children’s Museum

Minnesota Children’s Museum is dedicated to sparking children’s learning through play. Our vision: “Kids play more. Adults do, too.  We thrive as a happier, healthier and more innovative community through the radiant power of play.” The Museum, which first opened in 1981 and moved to downtown St. Paul in 1995, serves more than 460,000 visitors each year at its locations in St. Paul and Rochester, and reaches thousands more across the state through Smart Play Spots, Storyland exhibits and other programs. As the nation’s leading developer of traveling children’s museum exhibits, the Museum is a trailblazer in creating immersive learning environments, reaching more than 10 million children and adults in the United States, Canada and Mexico through the nation’s largest collection of children’s traveling exhibits. The Museum is consistently rated as one of the top children’s museums in the country by national media outlets such as Forbes and Parents and was named as a finalist for an Institute of Museum and Library Services Medal of Service, the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries. Follow Minnesota Children’s Museum on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and visit our Power of Play blog.

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