Moment of Science: Pi Explains Practically Everything!

Moment of Science: Pi Explains Practically Everything!

by Discovery Cube – March 1, 2018

Pi Explains Practically Everything! On March 14, math fanatics all around the world celebrate pi.  This is because the first three digits of pi are 3.14.

Pi is the ratio between the circumference of a circle (the distance around the circle) and its diameter (the distance across). This means that regardless of the size of the circle, the ratio will always be the same. Pi is also an irrational number, which means the digits never end or follow a set pattern. But why exactly does pi have so much fame?

Well, pi can explain practically everything!

In the natural world, pi can be found everywhere, from the pupil of the eye to the spiral of the DNA double helix. You can also use pi to think about Earth’s rotation. Mathematicians depend on pi to help them figure out the volume and surface area of spheres, as well for determining the rotations of circular objects, such as wheels.

Scientists, such as those at NASA, also commonly use the number pi. Pi is important for learning more about planetary objects. Scientists at NASA also use formulas involving pi to calculate the length of time it takes a spacecraft to orbit Ceres, the dwarf planet that is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.

Since pi is a never-ending number, computer scientists and even supercomputers do not really know all of pi’s digits. But that should not stop you from experiencing pi! Come check out Bubblefest and be inspired to learn more about pi as you watch giant soap bubble spheres fly through the air. Where else can you find pi? Try this fun project at home.


  • Construction Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • Random Household Items with Circular Shape


Step 1: Using the items found around your house, trace a bunch of circles ranging in size on several different pictures of construction paper.

Step 2: Create a picture using all the circles you have traced and cut out – such as this bear! Can you make a pig, or a dog, or a room full of bubbles?

Moment of Science: Patterns in Nature

by Discovery Cube – February 2, 2018

Patterns in Nature

The patterns found in nature have fascinated scientists for many years. Humans have looked at the stars to find patterns – called constellations. Each day we experience a sunset and a sunrise – patterns caused by the Earth’s rotation around the Sun, which we call time. Patterns help us organize information and make sense of the world around us.

A pattern exists when a set of numbers, colors, shapes, or sound are repeated over and over again. Patterns can be found everywhere: including in animals, plants, and even the solar system!

Some specific patterns are called fractals or spirals. Fractals are patterns that repeat at different scales. This means if you zoom in on a picture, you will see the same pattern replicated, and much smaller, inside the larger image. Broccoli is a great example of a fractal because a small piece of broccoli, when zoomed in, has the same pattern as the larger head of broccoli.

Another pattern found in animals and plants is a spiral. If you take a close look at a pine cone you will see a double set of spirals running clockwise and counterclockwise. Seashells and red cabbage are also organized in a spiral pattern. In fact, mathematicians have been able to create equations using spiral patterns that explain why the world works the way it does.

There are so many reasons why understanding patterns in nature is important. People have built cities and created art based on the patterns they see. We have used patterns, like the alphabet and sign language to help us communicate with one another. But since our world is always changing, so do patterns. Next time you go outside, look around – what are some of the patterns you see?


  • Multiple colors of Tissue Paper
  • Scissors
  • Paper Plate
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • Green Construction Paper
  • 1 Green Pipe Cleaner
  • 1 Googly Eye (Optional)


Step 1: Cut your colored tissue paper into small squares

Step 2: Arrange the colors in a pattern and then glue them onto the paper plate to form a spiral-like pattern

Step 3: Cut the green construction paper into an oval shape (this will represent the foot, or visible part of the body, of your snail)

Step 4: Glue the green construction paper behind the paper plate

Step 5: Glue the googly eye and the green pipe cleaner to your green construction paper (the pipe cleaner represents the snail’s antennas)

Step 6: Admire your snail’s spiral-patterned shell – and compare it to the spiral pattern on the next snail you encounter!

Moment of Science: Reasons for the Seasons

by Discovery Cube – January 9, 2018

Earth’s seasons do more than help us tell time or determine which fruits and vegetables will be available at the local grocery market. The changes that come with each season are a result of Earth’s tilt. Instead of standing straight up and down, the Earth leans slightly on its axis.

The axis is an imaginary line that helps Earth move around the Sun. It takes 365 days, or an entire year, for the Earth to make a full trip around the Sun. Depending on where Earth is on its journey around the Sun, our exposure to sunlight changes. This means different places in the world experience the seasons at different times.

Earth has four seasons throughout the year: winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Summer happens when the Northern hemisphere, or the part of planet we are on in Southern California, is tilted toward the Sun. The hemisphere tilted towards the Sun has warmer, longer days and shorter nights because the Earth is receiving more sunlight. When a hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun, it is winter. During this time of year, the days are colder and shorter because the Earth receives less sunlight. But when the Earth is partially tilted toward the Sun and partially not, we experience spring and autumn. Both “in-between” seasons are a bit warm and a bit cold.

Each season brings different changes to the Earth, impacting how we go about our day. Most importantly, seasons help many ecosystems stay in balance. So next time you go outside, take in the beauty of the season before it changes.

Materials: Leaf Rubbings 

  • White Copy Paper
  • Crayons
  • Leaves


Step 1: Collect leaves ranging in size and shape

Step 2:  Select one leaf and place the bottom/underside of the leaf face up

Step 3: Place the sheet of paper over the leaf and start rubbing the side of a crayon on the piece of paper

Step 4: Continue rubbing on paper until you have rubbed over the entire leaf

Step 5: Repeat Step 3 and Step 4 using different colors and other leaves

Step 6: Compare and contrast your rubbings – How are the leaves similar? How are they different? (Look at their shapes, sizes, and colors or feel their textures) How might these leaf rubbings compare to leaves you find during another season from the same tree or plant?

Moment of Science: The Science of Gingerbread Houses

by Discovery Cube – November 5, 2017

Kick off this holiday season by creating a gingerbread house with family and friends! Once you’ve designed and built your gingerbread house, enter your creation in Discovery Cube’s annual Science of Gingerbread competition. But how can you ensure your gingerbread house is strong enough to hold a roof-full of candy?

Start with the right choice of dough so you can build the gingerbread house of your dreams!  If you are making your own gingerbread, aim for tough dough with a springy texture to avoid cracked walls.  Since all materials have the ability to resist change, having springy dough can help maintain its original shape.  You can also choose to use a pre-baked gingerbread house kit.

A strong sealant can go a long way as you construct.  Icing is traditionally used as “glue” to hold the gingerbread house together.  What makes the icing dry like glue?  The secret ingredient is egg whites, which create a thick and strong paste. Cement-like textures can also be created by melting caramels, gummies, or marshmallows, making the house sturdier.

Finally, design matters.  In order to avoid cracked or collapsed structures, think about the difference between a flat rooftop versus a narrow A-frame rooftop.  Also, keep in mind how the height of the house influences the stability.

Now that you have carefully thought about your choice of dough, icing, and architectural design – start building. Once you are done building – it is time to decorate! This is a great way to re-use your leftover Halloween candy.

Once you are finished with your creation, enter your gingerbread house in the annual Science of Gingerbread competition. For additional details on the competition and entry form, click on the campus below.

Discovery Cube Orange County                                   Discovery Cube Los Angeles

For more tips on how to best build your gingerbread house, check out the video below.

Mary Tran: Inside Discovery Cube’s Dora and Diego Exhibit

Even though my kids may have outgrown Dora and Diego, the Dora and Diego – Let’s Explore! exhibit was fun to explore. Plant flowers in Isa’s Flowery Garden, help Tico gather nuts at Tico’s Tree and Car, uncover pirate treasure at Piggies’ Pirate Ship, help baby animals in the Animal Rescue Center, line up the stars at Constellation, and help Dora and her friends pilot the Rocket Ship.

Discovery Cube OC Dora and Diego Explore Map Photo LetsPlayOC

Like the television series, the exhibit is designed to help children use eight different abilities proposed by Dr. Howard Gardner at Harvard University (verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, music/auditory, visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, naturalistic, and interpersonal (social and self).

Discovery Cube Dora Diego Let's Explore Family Guide Photo LetsPlayOC

Family Guides:
Be sure to grab one of these Family Guides upon entering the exhibit! It is nicely illustrated to help families get the most out of the exhibit as well as exploring at home. What I like about the exhibit is that they have interactive components throughout the exhibit encouraging parents to be a part of the experience. For example, in Isa’s Flowery Garden, I saw a sign that said, “Grownups, help your child say it in English and Spanish,” and “Grownups, C’mon and play! Slide a puppet through the fence.”

Discovery Cube Dora and Diego Adult Interactive Play Photo LetsPlayOC
Piggies’ Pirate Ship: 
In the Pirate Ship, children can look through the telescope to spot the treasure chest, raise and lower the flag, dress like a pirate, and learn how to divvy up the coins into the Piggies’ banks.

Discovery Cube Dora Diego Explorer Exhibit Pirate Piggie Ship Photo LetsPlayOC
Rocket Ship: 
Aboard the Rocket Ship to go back to the Purple Planet. Children can put on a spacesuit, pilot the ship, and test their memory to help Dora and Boots. On the way to the Purple Planet, Dora and Boots encounter interesting star groupings at Constellation. On the Purple Planet, children can climb inside and slide down to exit.

Discovery Cube Rocket Ship Purple Planet Photo LetsPlayOC

Tico’s Tree and Car: 
Tico is headed to a family picnic and needs help filling up his basket and car with nuts.

Discovery Cube OC Dora Diego Explore Tico's Tree and Car Photo (c) LetsPlayOC

Isa’s Flowery Garden: 
In the garden, Dora’s friend, Isa the Iguana, children can pick flowers and learn how to care for flowers, plants, and animals.

Discovery Cube Dora Diego Explore Isa’s Flowery Garden Photo LetsPlayOC
Diego’s Animal Rescue Center: 
At the rescue center, children can learn how to care for rainforest animals (they are stuffed) by using the scanner beds, diagnosing the situation, cleaning the animals, and applying First Aid.

Discovery Cube Dora Diego Animal Rescue Center Photo at LetsPlayOC

Rainforest Maze: 
Explore a rainforest to locate the animals while children can climb across Jaguar Mountain, swing across Bobo Brother’s monkey bars, and crawl through a fallen tree.
discovery cube jaguar mountain dora diego photo letsplayoc

Have fun,

Mary Tran: Bubblefest at Discovery Cube!

What child doesn’t love bubbles? Just in time for Spring Break, Bubblefest is back in Orange County, and they’re celebrating 20 years of all things bubbles. Now through April 10th at the Discovery Cube OC, families can roll around in water spheres, take a family photo being inside a bubble, learn the science of bubbles in the Bubble Lab, watch an exciting performance of the Mega Bubblefest Laser Show performed by Deni Yang, and more! There’s even a Cube Jr. Playground for the littles.

Discovery Cube Bubblefest Courtyard Bubble Wands Photo LetsPlayOC
Mega Bubblefest Laser Show
The laser show never gets old. This is our third year seeing the show, and it’s still fun to watch. Bubble Artist, Deni Yang, has been doing it for over 20 years along with his family, and they even hold the Guinness Book of World Record for longest soap bubble wall. Deni does a great job captivating everyone in the audience especially the little ones. The Snow Story about his niece is super cute, and Deni creates all kinds of bubbles including smoke bubbles, square bubbles, and putting two children in a bubble. Toward the end of the show, we were in a bubble blizzard which lasts several minutes. It’s pretty funny, and we couldn’t see anything until it ended.

Discovery Cube Bubblefest XX Laser Show Photo

My kids especially enjoyed the laser show, bubble wall, rolling around in the water spheres, racing through the obstacle challenge, and playing with bubble wands in the courtyard. My favorites are the laser show and the Me-in-a-Bubble photo. Please note that general admissions is required with Bubblefest tickets. I have some details for you below and an opportunity to for one lucky reader to win an annual family membership at the Discovery Cube. Good luck!

discovery cube bubblefest water spheres photo letsplayoc

Discovery Cube Bubblefest Obstacle Challenge Photo letsplayoc

Have fun,