Featured Activities

Featured Activity: Echolocation

photo courtesy of wikimedia

Have you ever tried to go for a walk with your eyes closed? Though people can get pretty good at using their ears to compensate for their eyes, it can be difficult if you haven't had a lot of practice. Many animals rely on very specific sounds for communicating, locating and navigating. When an animal creates a sound to locate places, things or other animals, we call that echolocation.

Echolocation is performed when an animal makes a sound and then waits for that sound to reverberate (bounce) off of surrounding objects. Cetaceans—an order which includes whales, porpoises and dolphins—can judge how far away things are, by how long it takes for the sound to travel back to them. Echolocation makes it possible to travel towards food or friends and also to avoid bumping into anything disagreeable like a rock or a wall—which is probably pretty handy when you're as big as a whale.

Animals like whales and bats have very sensitive hearing and, in some cases, have body parts that produce sounds that can't be heard by the human ear. Bottlenose dolphins have bulbous foreheads, which we call melons, through which they emit a very large range of sounds, some of which are outside of the human audible range. They receive sound, or hear, through sound-conducting tissue in their lower jaw. Likewise, bat noses have special flaps called noseleaves that produce noises that allow them to send sound in many directions at once at frequencies that can't be heard by human ears. By sending the sound in many directions, bats can get a better idea of their surroundings.

Cetaceans are very good at echolocation communication. Killer whales within a pod develop their own way of speaking and calling to each other. Cetaceans have a vast auditory range, but they can have a hard time hearing each other over all of the noise that humans make in the water. Currently, noise pollution isn't regulated in our oceans. In some areas, the water traffic can be so loud for aquatic life that it's equivalent to a person standing in front of a jet plane engine. With all of the ships, submarines, pile drivers and jet boats on the ocean, it's become more common for our flippered friends to get lost, go hungry or wash up on shore. It's important to consider noise pollution when it comes to ocean activities. The WWF has more information about why ocean noise matters.

Practice you're echolocation skills and perfect a unique dialect for your pod with these Echolocation Resources: 

Ocean Connections: Orcas
Coastal Connections

 

Dive into ocean education with Journey to the South Pacific in the Science World OMNIMAX® Theatre. Swim with a whale shark without leaving Vancouver! For over 350 fun and educational science resources, visit Science World Resources.

Family Science Nights

Not just another boring pizza! Take the Science World approach to family evenings at home with Blood Juice, Cartesian Divers, Jelly Eyeballs, and a whole lot of fun, hands-on learning.

These packages include great movie suggestions, tasty recipes, fun activities and shopping lists to make your family science night a success.

Rocket Science

The Human Body

Under The Sea

Kitchen Chemistry

Bubble Recipes

Ever wonder why Science World’s bubbles are thicker, bouncier and more amazing than the rest? It isn’t a secret; it’s science! Check out our very own bubble recipes.

All-Purpose Bubble Solution

This solution is great for most bubble tricks, activities, and experiments. Johnson’s Baby Shampoo produces much better bubbles than any of the dish detergents we tried. Mix the ingredients gently and let the solution stand for a couple of hours.

Ingredients:

  • 1 part water to 1 part Johnson’s Baby Shampoo
  • glycerine*
     

Bouncy Bubble Solution

You can bounce these bubbles off your clothes! Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water. Add the shampoo and glycerine. Stir gently. This solution will gel as it cools. Reheat it carefully in the microwave (about two minutes).

Ingredients:

  • 1 package unflavoured gelatin (e.g. Knox brand)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) hot water (just boiled)
  • 50–70 ml glycerine*
  • 250 ml Johnson’s Baby Shampoo
     

Thick Bubble Solution

This goopy solution makes bubbles strong enough to withstand a puff of air. When you make a bubble with this solution, try puffing at it to make a bubble inside a bubble.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 to 3 parts Johnson’s baby shampoo to 1 part water
  • glycerine
     

What does the glycerine do?

Glycerine helps soap bubbles hold water, so that they last longer. It’s very helpful if you’re doing bubble tricks, but less important if you’re mixing up a bucket of bubble solution for preschoolers to mess about with. Most pharmacies carry glycerine. You’ll only need a small bottle—try 1–3 teaspoons for about a litre of bubble solution.

 

Check out various activities investigating the geometry and chemistry of bubbles:

Science World Resources

Hopping Frog