MagLab to host 20th annual open house

The 20th annual MagLab Open House will feature 75 different science demonstrations.

Where can you chat with a Disney Imagineer, sample Einstein’s ice cream, launch a potato and shatter a cryogenically frozen rose?

At the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, of course, during its 20th Open House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.Saturday, Feb. 21, at 1800 East Paul Dirac Drive, in Innovation Park near Florida State University. The event is free, but attendees are asked bring a canned good to donate to the Second Harvest of the Big Bend.

Parking is free and available around the lab and throughout Innovation Park, where other science labs are also hosting Open Houses during the same time.

This year’s MagLab Open House may just be the best one yet — and that’s saying a lot. The lab’s first celebration was filled with fanfare and featured a host of political dignitaries, such as then–Vice President Al Gore and U.S. Senator Bob Graham (also a former Florida governor).

The open house has grown substantially in the two decades and will have more than 75 demonstrations going on simultaneously this year. Free maps are available to guide visitors, and food trucks and a grill will be set up in the Magnet Lab’s front parking lot.

Visitors can try several hands-on science exhibits that were just recently conceived and built by Florida State students. These prototypes are the result of a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the MagLab and FSU’s College of Fine Arts. The joint venture culminated in the construction of six exhibits, several of which visitors are invited to try out. They include:

  • An electric guitar that you can play, with sound-activated lights that explain aspects of electric currents and magnetic fields. (The guitar display was inspired by an animation available on our site here:
  • Jars of black, goo-like ferrofluid (liquids that become magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field) that you can manipulate to create temporary sculptures. This exhibit demonstrates a magnet’s effect on materials.
  • Mini wind tunnels that uses air as a metaphor to demonstrate magnetic field strength.

On hand to answer questions about the student-made models will be an expert exhibit designer, Disney Imagineer and entrepreneur-in-residence Mk Haley, who worked with the students in crafting hands-on, museum-style exhibits.

Visitors also can walk to other science labs, which are hosting open houses the same day. A quick stroll from the MagLab, at 2000 Levy Ave., two science hubs — the Center for Advanced Power Systems,, and the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, — will welcome visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You will be able to build a mini-motor and a mini-magnet, explore the power of wind and much more.

Across the street, the Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion,, 2003 Levy Ave., will showcase its giant, powerful wind tunnels.