Science Center sparkles anew

This week in business

'Peck's Rex' dinosaur exhibit among fresh displays as museum celebrates $35 million renovation

Career fair to be held Wednesday at BWI

May 24, 2004|By Todd Beamon | Todd Beamon,BALTIMORESUN.COM STAFF

Most people mark the beginning of summer with Memorial Day this weekend -- and the Maryland Science Center will be no exception with its "Touch Wonder Weekend" celebration to open the refurbished and expanded facility.

"We wanted to capitalize on the unofficial kickoff of the summer season, to make sure that we're out there and everyone knows about it," said Christopher Cropper, the center's senior marketing director. The event includes a number of free events Saturday and Sunday outside the center, at 601 Light St. in the Inner Harbor.

The jewel of the four-year restoration effort is the $35 million addition that includes the Earth Science and Dinosaur Hall. It spans about 11,000 square feet and will house "Peck's Rex" -- a 40-foot-long skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex -- along with skeletons and skeleton cases of 14 other dinosaurs from about 65 million years ago.

Actually, Peck's Rex -- named after the area of Fort Peck, Mont., where the fossil skeleton was found -- is a foam-and-plastic replica weighing about 800 pounds. It is, however, the first casting from the original ever to be put on display. It is a research-quality duplicate that is expected to attract paleontologists as well as visitors of all ages.

Science Center officials hope the dinosaurs will help increase attendance to 800,000 annual visitors a year, from the current 500,000.

Other features of the refurbished Science Center include a traveling exhibit hall, which will open with "Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees," which chronicles her work over 40 years into the Gombe region of Africa. The exhibit, which includes a film in the IMAX Theater, runs through Labor Day.

"Since we didn't have dedicated space for traveling exhibits, we had to put them on one of our exhibit floors," Cropper said. While some permanent space will be closed for assembling and dismantling such exhibits, the disruptions now are expected to be minimal, he said. "Everything else will be open always."

Other new permanent exhibits include "Your Body: The Inside Story," a look at what goes on under your skin; "Follow the Blue Crab," a children's tale of the Chesapeake Bay told through the eyes of its primary inhabitant; and "Newton's Alley," which includes a range of interactive stations. These are in addition to many Science Center favorites -- the Davis Planetarium, Kids Room, SpaceLink, Science Live on the Demonstration Stage and Outer Space Place.

"Learning by doing is the best way," Cropper said of the center's interactive activities. "If you allow people to interact with the exhibit, it can be a different experience each time. These exhibits will show people that science is everywhere. It is a part of everyday life."

Saturday's activities include NASCAR demonstrations, a performance by the national recording group They Might Be Giants followed by a laser light show. On Sunday, visitors may participate in a vegetable race, sing with performers Dan Zanes and Friends and watch the Red Bull Skydiving Team of the U.S. Air Force.

For more information, call 410-685-5225 or click here.

Other events this week include:

Tuesday The World Trade Center Institute is holding its annual Embassy Day on May 25 at the Hyatt Regency-Baltimore, 300 Light St. Diplomats representing more than 75 nations will discuss opportunities in agribusiness, medicine, security, defense and other areas. For more information, call 410-576-0022 or click here.

The Howard County Economic Development Authority will present "Export Howard County: Focus on Small Business" from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The daylong session will provide information on starting or expanding firms in the global marketplace. For more information on the event, to be held at the authority's offices in Columbia, call 410-313-6500 or click here.

U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Baltimore Democrat who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, will discuss business opportunities with the federal government at a meeting of the Harambee Dinner Club at 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency-Baltimore, 300 Light St. For more information, call 443-858-2684 or click here.

In the Washington area, the Maryland Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and Montgomery College present a Town Hall meeting on "Education, Health and Business Economic Issues" at 6 p.m. at the college's Silver Spring campus.

The free session will feature Edmund C. Moy, special assistant to President Bush; Patricia Shao and Julie Bawa of the Asian American Health Program; and Susan Au Allen, president and CEO of the Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call 410-767-7491 or click here.

The MIT Enterprise Forum of Washington-Baltimore will present "Survivor Night: Three Companies That Survived and Why." Regional high-tech entrepreneurs will discuss how they got their companies off the ground. The session will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the NRECA Conference Center in Arlington, Va. For more information, click here.

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