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A Whale Tail, a Tornado and Dinosaur Bones in Grand Forks?

By Sally Miskavige, Grand Forks Children’s Museum Board Member

You read that correctly…Full STEAM Ahead has three exciting new additions to the wonderful array of STEAM-based exhibits. These new exhibits include a whale tail, tornado, and dinosaur bones. Be prepared to be awestruck!

The Grand Forks Children’s Museum has secured a whale tail from the Dakota Science Center. If you are very (very) lucky, you may have actually seen a whale tail rise up and then slip gracefully back into the depths of the ocean. It truly is an awe-inspiring sight…powerful, emotional, and rare.

Full STEAM Ahead is proud to bring this full-size replica of a blue whale tail to Grand Forks. When you stop by this exhibit and see the whale tail, here is a little ‘food for thought’.

Did you know…

  • A whale tail (the horizontal splash making part) is called a ‘fluke’.

  • One purpose of a whale’s tail is for propulsion, as it creates the motion for the whale to propel through the water. Another purpose is for aggression or for defense.

  • Whales sometimes put their fluke above water to cool off…whales have a lot of blubber and the putting their tail above water can provide some aeration and cooling.

  • Blue whales can grow to 110 feet long and their tails range from 20-25 feet.

  • In some cultures, a whale’s tail symbolizes strength, luck, and freedom.

I have been fortunate to witness a whale tail on a recent visit to the ocean. I like to think

that the whale is waving ‘hello’ to me…it’s beautiful, creates a sense of awe, and is mesmerizing. It’s fascinating to see these mammoth, powerful and graceful creatures. What is often misunderstood is the scale of these whales. You might be surprised at how enormous this blue whale tail is. Be sure to stop by and see the whale tail at Full STEAM Ahead. Bring your camera…this will be a great photo op!

A Tornado? Usually the associated message is ‘TAKE COVER…MOVE TO A SAFE PLACE’, however, not with this tornado. Thanks to the creative genius of Mrs. Robin, there is a (all too lifelike) tornado exhibit being created at Full STEAM Ahead. So, instead of ‘taking cover’, learn the elements of how tornadoes form, how they travel in a specific direction, where tornado alley is, the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning, how tornado strength is measured, what times of year to be watchful, and what specific weather conditions that are likely to create a tornado …all in the safe place.

Nothing strikes more fear than an approaching tornado…riveting, disturbing, memorable and destructive. Knowledge is power, and knowing how tornadoes evolve and being able to spot the signature signs just may save a life. Be sure to stop by this informative and relevant exhibit.

Dinosaur bones? Well, not real but YES, as part of our popular Imagination Blocks, Full

STEAM Ahead will also offer full-sized dinosaur bones. Build a stegosaurus, or a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Get in touch with your inner paleontologist and build a dinosaur. Or, use your imagination and create your own futuristic dinosaur! These dinosaur bones will be in addition to the large set of existing imagination blocks, so there will be plenty for all. Use your imagination to create something awesome.

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