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.


JUNE 21 to NOVEMBER 9, 2014

Catawba Science Center (CSC), with support from the City of Hickory and numerous furniture companies throughout the Unifour region, will open the exhibit Furniture. Well Crafted: Science + Innovation + Technology. This exhibit will connect the community to the wonders of technology and science behind the art and craftsmanship of fine furniture. This exhibition will run through November 9, 2014.

For over 110 years the furniture industry has been a major employer in the Unifour region. Many people have the feeling that furniture plants are a bad place to work due to past impressions and the serious loss of job over the last two decades. Much of that has changed as furniture manufacturers have modernized, automated, and adapted their businesses to new levels of customer service. The workplaces of the past are no longer commonplace. This exhibit pays tribute to the past and introduces visitors to innovations in science and technology that modern facilities now employ.

A variety of hands-on exhibits will demonstrate the modern technology used by manufacturers and employees to create fine heirloom furniture. Guests can experience the manufacturing process from design and material selection to assembly and product testing.  They will see that science plays an important role in the production process today and how current technological advancements, including 3D printing, are impacting the future of furniture making.

Visitors can examine and test the differences in foam and spring density. They will have the opportunity to test their skills in weaving, stuffing pillows, sewing, pattern layout, furniture assembly and putting together a one-of-a-kind wooden puzzle. Parents will enjoy this exhibition as well and will find exceptional opportunities for photographing their children in an oversized chair. Employment opportunities abound in the furniture industry. Test your hand at many fun-filled exhibitions and then learn about training opportunities from our local high schools and community colleges.







APRIL 5 to OCTOBER 26, 2014

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.




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.


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 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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