Cool Stuff

The nation’s tallest spiral slide and one of the largest trees in North America await young Einstein’s at GadgetTrees. A two-story tree house and other backyard staples demonstrate simple machines at play. Visitors are greeted by the sound of a babbling brook and singing birds amid warnings that “Archimedes slide is one-way only,” and “Do not run over smaller visitors.” Learn about all the ways science interacts with nature with a forest of facts and a rope maze map of Oklahoma. WOOD you believe what objects are made from trees? Band-aids to football helmets! GadgetTrees is an adventure rooted in science.

screw pump was essentially a giant screw inside of a hollow tube. It was originally used to scoop up a volume of water at the base of the tube and carry it upward as the screw shaft rotated within. In the 3rd century the screw pump was often powered by a windmill, or by manual labor. It made the work of things like transferring water to irrigation ditches or removing the water from a flooding ship simpler and more efficient. Archimedes’ screw may have been designed to remove water flooding a ship, but the corkscrew slide named for him feels a lot more like play than work—which is kind of the point, isn’t it?

A great example of how Archimedes’ screw is still used by Oklahomans is the grain elevator. Grain elevators are used everyday in Oklahoma’s thriving agricultural industry to transport grains, like our beautiful waving wheat, from the bottom of the grain elevator shaft to the top. That way, it can then be loaded into bins and trucks to be distributed all over the country and the world!

Fun Facts - Did You Know?

Did you know that The Shumard Oak on display in the GadegetTrees exhibit was relocated to Science Museum Oklahoma after being struck by lightning and is the oldest tree west of the Mississippi?

What You’ll Learn

Eureka! The six simple machines: pulley, lever, wedge, wheel/axle, inclined plane, and screw, are all put to play in this universally accessible setting. A fantastic, two-story tree house offers the freedom to explore with that “No grown-ups allowed” feeling. The teeter-totter (a lever, disguised as a toy) is a welcome friend to those who remember their childhood fondly. It’s hard to believe that these simple machines were inventions originally created to do work, when having a catapulting competition from the highest point of the GadetTrees tree house!

In science, work is defined as a force acting on an object to move it across a distance, and can be described by the formula W (work) =F (force) x d (distance). GadgetTrees is physical science at its most basic. The use of these simple machines was a necessary advancement for ancient times—their survival depended upon it. The inspiration for creating all of these simple machines came from a necessity to find new ways to transport water to places like households, irrigation systems, and even cities centuries ago.

The ancient civilizations may not have known it at the time, but they were using physics in their everyday lives, just like you do as well. If you were wondering if these simple machines are still used today, the answer is YES! Since then, these gadgets have been combined into complex machines like bicycles and cars, lawn mowers and typewriters.

Simple machines make the work we do easier. Less effort, more results. If only life were always as simple as this idyllic backyard.

Featured Fun: Archimedes Slide

Archimedes Slide is a great example of a screw, one of the six simple machines we learn about in the GadgetTrees exhibit. It’s tons of speedy fun for all those who dare to take a ride, but did you know that you are actually taking part in history every time you twist and turn your way down this screw shaped slide? That’s right! Historically, Archimedes’ screw, more commonly known as the screw pump, was one of Archimedes’ many inventions and discoveries in the 3rd Century BC. The