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GAME FOR COMMUNICATION

'Play' is the thing for education, fun at Orlando Science Center

Dewayne Bevil on Attractions

Theme Park Ranger

10:40 AM EDT, May 31, 2012

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It takes one creative mind to team up foosball and binary code.

That is just one of the dynamic pairings in "Play," a new exhibit at the Orlando Science Center that uses enormous game pieces such as dominoes and billiard balls to mix art, science and sociology.

Its mastermind is Mexican artist-composer-technology enthusiast Nacho Rodriguez Bach.

"He's trying to combine all these ideas and show how people relate and communicate with each other," says Andrea Hart, an Orlando Science Center exhibit developer.

Four-foot-tall soft dominoes are in one corner where kids can build a fort or cause a king-size chain reaction. The easy-to-grasp lesson is "think before you act." The scientific contribution is an explanation of evolutionary neurobiology or the "theory of the mind."

Nearby are oversize billiard balls that, when rolled, start to play music. Together, guests can make a symphony. There's a relaxing, yoga-style vibe back there, enhanced by a mural by Rodriguez Bach.

The simple lesson from playing pool: "Feel that you are part of something greater than yourself." The meatier, scientific take involves "emergent behavior," like how flocks of birds or schools of fish move and work together.

"It's really hard to communicate abstract ideas unless you're in a classroom setting or you have the time to sit down and explain complicated theories," Hart says. "This is a really unique exhibit in that it's able to communicate some of those ideas in a way that relates them to things in everyday life."

Children may not stop to read all the associated text — presented in English and Spanish — but who can blame them when games have gone wild?

•A backgammon set plays music when you stand on different points (learn about social networks and biosemiotics).

•A giant red die translates dozens of international proverbs — heard through the die's white dots — into English (we're all from one human genome).

•Folks representing bowling pins fight back against the big bad ball in an exhibit that resembles "Dance Dance Revolution" (there's strength in numbers or all about aromatic molecules, which have stronger stability than expected).

Meanwhile, back in foosball territory, teamwork and community consensus are explored while kids climb into hollowed out foosball figure surrounded by mirrors and altered voices. It's an out-loud example: "Express yourself and respect the will of the group."

The exhibit runs through Sept. 3.

Also at OSC

•Astronomy Month activities wrap up this weekend with Richard Johanboeke, a NASA engineer, talking about the Mars Science Laboratory at 2 p.m. Saturday. The science center also will host SunWatch sessions at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

•"Rescue," a documentary about reaction to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, debuts June 9.

Sean Casey of the film "Tornado Alley" — now showing at the science center — and the Discovery Channel show "Storm Chasers" will be there June 29-July 1. He'll do intros for the film and tours of the Tornado Intercept Vehicle.

dbevil@tribune.com or 407-420-5477



'Play'



When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily (closed Wednesdays)

Where: 777 E. Princeton St., Orlando

Cost: Included in regular admission — $17 general, $12 ages 3-11

Phone: 407-514-2000

Online: OSC.org