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Five things to do at NYSCI's Tony Hawk/Rad Science exhibit

Our 12-year-old, skateboard-loving reporter picks the five things young museumgoers will enjoy most about "Tony Hawk/Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science.

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    "Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science

Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

"Tony Hawk: Rad Science" at the New York Hall of Science


The New York Hall of Science is by far one of the most interesting museums I’ve ever been to. I’m a seventh grader at the Salk School of Science in Manhattan, and love skateboarding, so when I saw that the “Tony Hawk/Rad Science” exhibit was coming, I was excited to go. The first time I heard about Tony Hawk’s 900, a trick where you spin up in the air nearly three full times, I was in awe: How could someone spin so fast, so high up, and so many times around before hitting the ground?! The New York Hall of Science decided to put on this show in order to show you some of the science behind skateboarding. I don’t believe the new exhibit is great for younger kids, for they might not understand it (also, the TH Pro Skater HD video game is pretty graphic, with blood spurting out of your character at every fall). And make sure kids are not under the illusion that you get to actually ride a skateboard, or they might be disappointed. Overall though, I enjoyed the show, learned a few things, and I think you will as well. Here are the five parts of this show that I think kids will like the most.

Board Balance Playground
This section, right when you come in, is a hands-on way of letting you know a little bit more about skateboarding, and the balance it requires. Kids of all ages can have fun practicing their balance on this stationary skateboard. (It moves just enough to keep you off balance.) There are also spots nearby where you can practice airborne spinning and learn that you go faster, when spinning, if your arms are pulled in to your body than if you put them out to your sides.

Drop Off Ahead
This presentation lets kids see whether a big longboard (a type of skateboard) or a small longboard will fall fastest from the same height. I personally predicted that they would hit the bottom at the same time, but saw many confused and interested faces of kids when they found out that the bigger board hit at the same time as the smaller board. We all learned that without air resistance, even objects of different sizes and weights fall at the same speed. This was very interesting, and is sure to catch kids by surprise!

Friction Hill
This slope enables you to see how much the surface you skate on affects the smoothness of your ride. You get to explore how the amount of friction causes the speed of the blocks (which you slide down a surfaced hill) to vary. There is a super-smooth hill, a tiled-floor hill and a grippy textured hill. When you slide a smooth block down the textured hill it goes way slower than it goes down the other hills. When you try to slide a rubbery block down the textured hill, it stops right away because the friction is too much, which I found surprising. Also, I noticed some kids just having fun rolling blocks down hills, which isn’t necessarily a flaw in this exhibit!

Newton’s Pool
I found this specific part of the exhibit very interesting, and learned a lot. The three Newton’s laws—the law of inertia, the law of acceleration, and the law of equal and opposite reaction—are shown through videos and images of Tony Hawk skateboarding, which explain the laws inside an enclosed “pool.” I hadn’t known about these laws, and appreciated the pictures that helped me understand them. The most interesting was the second one. You saw that a skateboarder went much faster with more force and less mass as opposed to less force and more mass. It was a pretty cool thing to see and do, even if you could not understand Newton’s laws completely.

History Bowl
This pool-like bowl, all about the history of skateboards, was pretty amazing to see. You can see what the first skateboards looked like, and how they revolutionized over time to become modern boards, and even odd-looking electronic ones. You will catch a glimpse of the actual “Hoverboard” seen in the movie Back to the Future. Fans of Tony Hawk can also see his first-ever board, and his more modern 2012 one.

"Tony Hawk/Rad Science" is at the New York Hall of Science through April 22.


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