All this week, the city has been celebrating its long love affair with science via the Philadelphia Science Festival, organized by the Franklin Institute. The event, now in its sixth year, has gotten so big — in 2015, 95,000 of us attended — that its signature Science Carnival has moved from the Institute to the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. It’s this Saturday, April 30th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it’s FREE!!! You’ll find more than 175 exhibitors presenting hands-on, family-friendly experiments and activities concerning everything scientific, from robotics to live animals to slime-making to helicopter tours. (They’re promising an “explosive grand finale moment” that we happen to know involves trash cans.) As a windup to the carnival, here’s a collection of oddities (not all are on public display) you might not have realized are housed at the Institute — testaments, all, to the enormous breadth of human curiosity and invention.
1. The Wright Brothers’ 1911 Model B Flyer. This model, the most-intact Wright Brothers airplane remaining in the world, was one of the first mass-produced aircraft. It was also the first to fly nonstop(!) from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. The Institute has an entire Wright Aeronautical Engineering Collection of artifacts that includes the detailed and exhaustive notebooks Orville and Wilbur used to record their wind-tunnel tests. Read more »