Where you’ll find SparkLab science in the real world

There are real-world links to almost all the exhibits in SparkLab! Here are some of our favourites.

Alligator water dance

When a male alligator is ready to find a companion, he produces a sound from his lungs too low to be heard by the human ear. This infrasound creates vibrations through his body which cause the water above him to ‘dance’ in a liquid splash.

The Splashes of Sound exhibit allows visitors to use sound to change the way water moves in a similar way. Using a speaker to create vibrations through sound, at some frequencies the overlapping compression waves cause the air to vibrate strongly, making the liquid in the tube ‘dance’.

Dandelion seed flight

It’s a long-standing tradition for children to make a wish as they blow the seeds of dandelions from their stems into a breeze where they can stay in flight for great distances. The dandelion seeds are perfectly designed, with delicate tufted bristles on their top side to create a tiny air vortex which helps keep them afloat for as long as possible, utilising natural air flow to resist gravity.

The Flight Test exhibit challenges visitors to make their own flying machine and test it out in a stream of upward travelling air. The weight and shape of the flying machine will affect how well it flies and how it moves through the air. This makes for an excellent opportunity to race your friends.

Hot tip – plants like the dandelion have evolved to perfect this flight, so take note of the seed’s shape for an aerodynamic edge!

Misty mountains

Mist is made up of tiny water droplets hanging in the air that form when moist air rapidly cools causing the water within to condense. Mist is common in mountain areas, created as warm air is forced upwards and meets the colder mountain air and land surface. As mist moves through a forest or down a mountain slope, it moves around the vegetation wetting one side of the trees and leaving the other side dry. This flow of airborne moisture can affect vegetation growth within the forest, causing moss and vines to grow on one side of a tree trunk, but not the other. 

The Flowing Mist exhibit imitates this phenomenon, inviting visitors to change how the mist moves and flows by placing a hand on the slope and feeling it move around the obstacle, wetting one side but not the other, just like in the forest!

Experience real-world science at SparkLab! Buy tickets museum.qld.gov.au/sparklab

Find SparkLab on Level 1 of the Museum. Share your visit with us on social media by tagging #SparkLabQM and @qldmuseum.

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