Catawba Science Center On The SALT Block • 243 3rd Avenue NE • PO Box 2431 • Hickory, NC 28603 • Phone: (828) 322-8169 • Fax: (828) 322-1585
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Welcome to Catawba Science Center, where hands-on
learning makes science fun!

Our Mission

To change lives and inspire learning through science and wonder.

CSC’s permanent exhibit areas explore Physical, Natural and Earth sciences, while interactive traveling exhibits rotate throughout the year.

Freshwater and saltwater aquarium exhibits – featuring a marine touch pool with LIVE sharks and stingrays —offer exciting hands-on learning experiences in immersive habitats.


Body Carnival
TheScience and Fun of Being You


Visitors to Catawba Science Center will be immersed in the wonders of the human body. This exhibition will inform and educate children and their families about the human body. Body Carnival: The Science and Fun of Being You will be segmented into six areas with important lessons for children and their parents on issues dealing with dental hygiene, physical abilities, vision and equilibrium, circulatory systems and heart disease and many more areas.

The six areas will focus on body exploration, body invasion, reproduction, dental hygiene, physical challenge, and the “doctor’s office”.

Body Exploration invites children to climb through a blood vessel and hear the sound of a human heart. Transparent human figures will allow children and their families to see human organs and their placement within the body.

The Doctor’s office challenges children to use their senses to feel music, understand how to blend light to make different colors, combine vision and the inner ear to walk a straight line, and walk a balance beam. Other hands-on activities simulate experiences of individuals who do not have full use of the human senses.

Body Invasion introduces the visitor to human allergies, their causes, and what can be done to support a person who is faced with these challenges.

Visitors will have the option of entering a special section on Human Reproduction. This exhibit includes models of the miracle of the development of a human baby in its mother’s womb. The exhibit opens the door for parents to talk to their children about the “birds and bees” on a level they feel is appropriate.

The Dental Hygiene area takes us into a younger child’s arena where he can walk inside a set of teeth, practice cleaning the teeth with an oversize toothbrush and slide down a tongue sliding board.

The Physical Challenge engages children in activities like Think Fast, Hang time and Walk the Plank.
CSC plans numerous hands-on science activities in conjunction with Body Carnival: The Science and Fun of Being You. Activities include new Body Carnival science demonstrations, weekly dissection classes, NC Science Festival Science Expo at Catawba Science Center and a blood drive.


Every Tuesday at 4 PM starting March 11, 2014   through May 27
Inside Investigations: Dissection Classes at Catawba Science Center
Participants will have an opportunity to dissect sheep brains, kidneys, frogs and much more!

Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM – April 4, 2014:
Catawba Valley Astronomy Club Daytime Star Party – Free Admission
Learn the proper techniques to for solar observation and take part in numerous activities.

Saturday from 2 to 6 PM  - April 4, 2014:
NC Science Festival Expo at Catawba Science Center – Free Admission
Meet local science professionals take part in 10 inquiry based learning stations.

Saturday from 11 AM to 1 PM – May 3, 2014
Community Blood Center of the Carolinas Blood Drive
Visitors who donate blood will receive two free admission passes to CSC.

Thanks the generous support of Carolina Ear, Nose, Throat, Head and Neck Surgery Center, Catawba Valley Medical Center, Frye Regional Medical Center, GREER® Laboratories, Inc. and an independent educational grant from Mylan Specialty,  Body Carnival: The Science and Fun of Being You is included in CSC’s General Admission rates and admission is always free for CSC Members.



Spin: The Science of Rotation

On April 5, 2014, Catawba Science Center (CSC) opens Light Moves, a new exhibit, in the Edgerton Gallery. CSC has joined with the Hickory Museum of Art (HMA), CommScope, Corning Optical Communications, Prysmian Group and US Conec to create an exhibit about the impact light plays in our lives. Visitors can experiment with reflecting and refracting light as they learn the scientific principles of light. Additional displays demonstrate these principles in use in fiber optic communication devices.

Light Moves includes highlights from the career and life of Doctor “Doc” Harold Edgerton, the pioneer and inventor of high speed and strobe photography. Over 30 samples of Doc Edgerton’s work are on display from the HMA. In conjunction with Light Moves, two exhibits, The Qualities of Light I (now through  July 15) and The Qualities of Light II (April 16 – September 21), will be on display at the HMA.

Visitors will learn how light plays an important role in our everyday lives. Every interactive display shows how light can be reflected, redirected, condensed, controlled and manipulated. Individuals will walk away with a new appreciation of light and its limitless uses. Participants will be able to do everything from stop water droplets in mid-air to make light follow a stream of water. They can be able to steer laser beams and draw images with a fiber optic cable.

The Light Moves exhibit will be on display through October 26, 2014 in the Edgerton Gallery.

This exhibition is supported by CommScope, Corning Optical Communications, Prysmian Group and US Conec, and a media partnership with Kicks 103.3; the Catawba Valley’s number one country station. Light Moves is included in CSC’s General Admission rates and admission is always free for CSC Members.

Infectious Diseases: Evolving Challenges to Human Health

Now Open – First Floor

Visitors get an in-depth view of the microbes that cause some of the world’s most deadly diseases and explore the challenges facing researchers today.

Infectious Diseases: Evolving Challenges of Human Health was prepared by the Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Science. Copyright 2007 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Funded in part by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) through the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health.

Infectious Diseases: Evolving Challenges of Human Health
is sponsored locally by Northwest Area Health Education Center (AHEC) of
Wake Forest University School of Medicine and part of the NC AHEC program,
Catawba Valley Medical Center and Frye Regional Medical Center.

Permanent Exhibits

Saltwater Gallery

Sharks & Stingrays

See and touch different species of LIVE sharks and stingrays in this hands-on marine habitat. See Live shark feedings. Check CSC's Event Calendar for times.

Coastal North Carolina

Explore a coastal habitat for marine creatures.  See and touch hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs and observe a variety of coastal fish.


Freshwater Gallery

Featuring Expedition Amazon

Amazon Basin

See rare and remarkable fish, frogs, snakes, turtles lizards and crabs native to the Amazon Basin. Look closely for freshwater stingrays and brilliantly colored poison dart frogs.

Amazon Oxbow

Get an underwater view of a variety of fish found in an Amazon oxbow lake – including Silver Arowana, Eartheaters, Catfish and beautiful Peacock Bass. Learn about oxbows, or crescent-shaped lakes in lowland Amazonia that form when a river changes course.

Wall of Life

Biotope aquariums display species native to various habitats in South America – whitewater, brackish and blackwater streams, as well as an up-close look at predator, camouflage and endangered fish species. Expedition Amazon includes electric fish, including knifefish and a three-foot electric eel.

Hall of Astronomy

Explore the surface of Mars using a robot arm, view live images of our solar system downloaded from the Hubble Spacecraft, create a dust devil and see a model of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover in this hands-on exhibit area located just outside the doors to the Millholland Planetarium.

Energy Avenue

Create and launch rockets, race a friend on pulley playground, take a spin in Spin Circle, power a TV and electric fan, and more. Energy Avenue is located in the lower level of CSC.

Inventor's Workshop

Design your own invention, build a rocket, experiment with circuits, make a car that runs on air and bring your invention to life at the “Wall of Moving Art.” Activities feature Take-Apart-Days,
weekend demonstrations and cool events.

VR Xtreme

Be part of a water cycle, slam dunk on the basketball court and make your own music in VR Xtreme, Catawba Science Center’s virtual reality theater, located just off
Energy Avenue on the lower level of CSC.

EarthWatch Center

EarthWatch Center

Learn about conditions on the Sun, experiment with forces of water and experience 78 MPH of fun in CSC’s Tornado Simulator. Located off Energy Avenue on the lower level of CSC.

Science Courtyard

Discover science North Carolina style. Climb the mountain wall, experiment with sound and search for fossils at the end of the brook. This outdoor exhibit space is closed during inclement weather.

Naturalist Center

Visit CSC's recently remodeled Naturalist Center – home of Swampy the Alligator and Seymour, an African spur tortoise, and Pedro, a desert tortoise. Observe live reptiles, amphibians, insects and arachnids, in addition to an eclectic collection of preserved animals, insects, fossils and more.

Explore It!

Explore the world around you - visit a farm, treehouse and play with the puppet animals inside, experiment with light, go fishing and build an igloo with "ice blocks" in this colorful, interactive learning space for CSC's youngest visitors.


Explore the principles of motion in this high-speed exhibit area with hands-on activities using balls and various types of tracks.



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