Fort Mill Times

Big top science comes to Charlotte

CHARLOTTE -- Ladies and gentlemen! Step right up and discover the secrets of science under the big top as Discovery Place introduces the museum's newest exhibition, Circus!, opening Saturday.

Featuring more than 20 multi-station, interactive exhibits that amaze, thrill, perplex and entertain, Circus! offers visitors a behind-the-big-top view of the science needed to make circus magic come to life.

"When the circus comes to town, it's definitely an occasion for a family outing," said John Mackay, president and CEO of Discovery Place. "But when you think about the circus, you don't always realize how integral science is in presenting the greatest show on earth. Physics, mathematics, biology and even psychology are essential in staging a spectacular show. At Circus!, guests will become the stars as high- wire performers, clowns, jugglers and even acrobats while uncovering the science that lies beneath the big top."

Spectators become performers at Circus! and experience how the body responds to the sensation of height, balance and gravity. Aspiring daredevils can take a walk on The High Wire, an authentic, steel cable suspended nine feet in the air. The Balance Bar also allows for a unique experience to learn more about balance and the center of gravity. At this exhibit, guests can experiment with different balancing tools that demonstrate the secrets of rotational mechanics.

Families can go ballistic with the Human Cannonball and take aim at targets; shoot projectiles; and have fun learning about pneumatics, trajectories, physics and mathematics.

Visitors can feel as though they've truly run away to join the circus in the Creative Costume and Play Area. Younger children, along with family and friends, can try on costumes and role-play as a ringmaster, lion and bear. Performers-in-training can take to the center ring in Juggling and learn how to juggle and spin plates. Families can continue to clown around in Clown Alley which tickles the imagination with facts on the science of giggling and laughter.

The exhibition also explores the sights, smells and sounds of the circus. In Circus Smells, guests can take a whiff of distinctive circus aromas to learn the physiological reasons why scents trigger nostalgic memories. And, there's much more to see and do.

The exhibition runs through July 3. Circus! is free with museum admission. For more information, call 704-372-6261 or visit