Today's Hours: 10:00 am to 7:30 pm
Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20560
Phone: 202-633-2214

Discovery Stations

These portable interactive carts encourage informal learning through active looking, discussion, and hands-on activities related to aviation, space exploration, astronomy, and planetary geology. These programs typically last from 15 to 20 minutes and are used to supplement other educational programming.

Discovery Station Topics

America by Air: The History of Air Transportation
What was it like for the first air mail pilots in an open cockpit? Why did early stewardesses carry flyswatters? What made the DC-3 such a strong and popular aircraft? Discuss these things and more in a fun demonstration featuring airplanes in the America by Air exhibition.

Living and Working in Space: Human Space Exploration
Share the excitement and wonder of human spaceflight, from the Mercury missions in the 1960s to the space shuttle era and beyond. Hands-on demonstrations include real space artifacts and spacesuits!

Maps, Models, and Measuring Devices: Tools of Astronomy
Astronomers throughout history have used amazing tools to help explain and better understand the universe. Investigate several centuries of astronomical tools including astrolabes, quadrants, and celestial spheres.

Telescope Power! Tools of Astronomy
Learn the basic principles behind how telescopes work with special emphasis on Galileo's work. Learn the major differences between Galilean, Keplerian, and achromatic telescopes. Learn how to make your own telescopes from materials you can find at home.

Black Holes
Massive objects such as black holes can distort space-time and deflect light. Investigate how black holes or galaxy clusters can amplify the light of distant stars and galaxies, enabling astronomers to see farther into space.

Decoding Starlight: Tools of Astronomy
Discover how scientists can determine the makeup of stars by analyzing starlight. Learn about the light spectrum, energy waves, spectrometers, UV rays, and more.

Kite to Flight: Problem Solving with the Wright Brothers
Examine early kite models, learn about the many experiments the Wright brothers conducted, touch the kind of materials used on their 1903 Flyer, find out why they were used, and learn about the principles of wing warping.

What Is a Wing? Problem Solving with the Wright Brothers
One of the major contributions of the Wright brothers relates to wings and propellers. This station uses interactive games to show how the Wright brothers used wings, airfoil shape, and Bernoulli's principle to take to the air.

Out of This World Materials: The Space Shuttle, a Battle of Weight Versus Strength
A meteorite entering Earth's atmosphere looks like a ball of fire because of friction with the air. This same phenomenon happens when the space shuttle enters the atmosphere. Its high speed causes its surface to reach a temperature of 1,650 degrees C (3,000 degrees F). So what protects the shuttle from that kind of heat? Find out by examining real shuttle tiles and materials.

Cosmic Survey
You may be familiar with the names of many objects in space but may not be sure where they are, their relative size and scale, and how they fit into our understanding of the universe. Learn about the size and scope of the universe by playing three simple games that answer How big? How far? and How old?