A Polymer Playground: Akron Global Polymer Academy Consults on Science Center’s New TapeScape Exhibit

05/07/2018

Pictured Left to Right: Valence Davillier, Great Lakes Science Center Vice President of Exhibits; Claire Dorsett, Great Lakes Science Center Exhibits Developer; and John Fellenstein, AGPA Content Specialist

Cleveland’s Great Lakes Science Center has found a brand new way to make science come alive, and it comes in the form of polymers.

TapeScape-Sticky Science was announced as an upcoming exhibit in 2017 as the Science Center began working with designer and artist Eric Lennartson and the Akron Global Polymer Academy to conceptualize a playground made of packing tape. Now the project is coming to life, and it is open starting today, May 4, until September 3. During that time, families can come to explore a two-story, 1,300-square-foot structure made entirely out of packing tape wrapped around a metal frame.

Lennartson has worked to install different versions of TapeScape at locations across the country, each varying in design but all promoting multi-sensory exploration of adhesive science, a concept as closely related to polymers as the tape itself. He and the AGPA collaborated to make this TapeScape exhibit the largest yet, utilizing nearly 75 miles of tape for the project.

Hands-on, sensory learning is a specialty of the AGPA, which is what made this a perfect partnership. TapeScape includes several hands-on exhibits demonstrating adhesives and polymers, including examples of adhesion in nature. Velcro, suction cups and Oreo cookie models are just a few of the tools that parents and kids can use to learn more about the physical and chemical processes behind “stickiness.” A few of this activities include a pinscreen to investigate how geckos cling to glass, exploring biomimicry in nature, viewing rainbows of stress in clear tape backing, observing Velcro’s hooks, pulling apart mimic-Oreos to compare adhesion and cohesion, and getting creative with colorful tape at a maker’s station. The exhibit even includes a “TotScape” for younger visitors to have a space of their own for exploring.

Collaboration between the Great Lakes Science Center, Lennartson, and the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering helped to make the entire TapeScape exhibit a wonderful way to teach families more about adhesion, biomimicry, and the world of polymers.