Visiting the State Fair of Texas* each fall is a major tradition for many families from around the state. At talkSTEM, we are particularly excited by the 2019 State Fair of Texas Theme: Celebrating Texas Creativity! As a part of our mission to grow STEM mindsets, we focus on all of the creative thinking aspects of STEM. In fact, we collaborated with some super creative walkSTEM advisor, Dr. Glen Whitney, along with volunteers and high school students to think “outside the box” about Fair Park, and developed a walkSTEM® experience there. Whether you’re visiting Fair Park for the State Fair or during another time of year, be sure to check out our playlist on walkSTEM® Academy to learn more about the history of the park and how it connects to STEM! Read on to learn more about what you will discover!
*This year, the State Fair of Texas runs from September 27th to October 20th. If you visit and have a STEM-related observation or question about the event, we would love to hear from you! Post a picture or video with a description of your observation or questions using #IwalkSTEM.
A little background on Fair Park
It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 1936, state leaders chose it to host a world’s fair commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Texas Republic. Texas’ history, economy, flora and fauna were highlighted in the buildings, statues and murals designed for the event. Architects and artists designed all the new Fair Park amenities in the then-contemporary Art Deco style. It covers 277-acres just east of downtown Dallas. It has one of the world’s largest collections of art and architecture. (from fairpark.org)
How Fast Can You Go? Texas Star
Whether you’re at Fair Park or even driving around certain parts of Dallas, it’s hard to miss the towering site of the Texas Star Ferris Wheel! After all, it’s the largest Ferris wheel in the United States. As you’re watching it turn, there are lots of things you might wonder about, but if you’re like us, one of the first that comes to mind is: How fast is your gondola whisking through the air when you ride it? Join students and faculty from Greenhill School in exploring this question.
How Much Gold is There? Tower Building
Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of Dallas Fair Park is the gold-leaf wrapped Tower Building. Yes, that is real gold! Because of the allure and attraction of gold, we definitely want to ask, “How much is all of that gold on the Tower Building worth?” Before we go through the calculations, stop and take a moment to guess. Is it 1,000 dollars worth of gold if we crumpled it up into a solid nugget of gold? $10,000? A million dollars? Let’s figure it out.Join Dr. Koshi Dhingra, founder of talkSTEM, and Dr. Jason Treadway, director of Dallas County Community College District STEM Institute in discovering just how much gold is on the Tower Building.
What’s the Really Big Number Here? Hall of State
The facade of the Hall of State at Dallas Fair Park is awash in small blue tiles. As such, it provides an excellent opportunity for a fun element of almost any math walk: A Really Big Number. In this case, how many tiles are there on the facade? To get a handle on this, we will take advantage of the fact that the tiles are in uniform horizontal rows. We just need to estimate how many tiles in each row and how many rows there are in all, and then multiply. Join Lynn McBee, CEO of Young Women’s Prepartory Network, Trammel Crow, businessman, philanthropist, and entrepreneur and Dr. Koshi Dhingra, talkSTEM founder, in taking math out of the textbook and into the real world!
Similar Triangles or Not? Esplanade
Perhaps your stroll around Dallas Fair Park brings you to the Esplanade, a stately reflecting pool between Centennial Hall and the Automotive Building. The designers of the Esplanade for the 1936 World’s Fair had a difficulty, however: one end of the Esplanade is five to ten feet higher than the other, and of course, water won’t stay with a slanted top; it always finds its level. So they had no choice but to install some retaining walls (in this case, two) between one end of the Esplanade and the other, dividing the pool into three separate sections. Water flows over one of the retaining walls, creating a pleasant cascade.
Rather than choosing to build the walls straight across the Esplanade, the designers chose to angle the walls, creating two long, sharp triangles pointing away from one end of the Esplanade and leading the eye toward the fountain in the lowest section of the pool. Looking at these triangles, it looks very likely that the two sides of each triangle are the same length, making them a special kind of triangle called an isosceles triangle.
Looking at the resulting vista, one question that comes to mind is whether the engineers made the two triangles the same shape or not.
Join Dallas Independent School District CityLab High School students and faculty in this engaging use of geometry in the real world.
One key goal for talkSTEM is to develop future leaders in STEM-related careers by helping all children and their adults adopt STEM mindsets. Going on a walkSTEM tour and creating one is a great way to do this. Join the movement at https://create.talkstem.org.
We are focused on creating awesome STEM education resources to grow a STEM mindset in kids. Are you a STEM teacher or a parent looking for new STEM activities for kids? Then be the first to know when we have new content. Follow us on social media and please share videos, photos and your STEM mindset in action using #talkSTEM!
YouTube: walkSTEM Academy