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The Lancaster Science Factory and Elizabethtown College collaborate to debut a new musical water fountain exhibit


The Lancaster Science Factory along with engineering students from Elizabethtown College, have debuted a new Musical Water Fountain at the Lancaster Science Factory. The new exhibit, built as a class project by the engineering students, demonstrates how solenoid valves work.

The Water Fountain shoots seven different streams of water in time to various songs that the guests can choose. Each valve represents a certain bandwidth of frequencies. The valves send water upward whenever their corresponding frequencies are present in the song. Three-way solenoid valves are used to direct the water upwards and exhaust it out the bottom of the valve.

The students on the project are: Gabrielle Genvario, Electrical Engineering; Thomas (Tommy) James, Mechanical Engineering; Parke Martin, Mechanical Engineering; Ryan Shirk, Mechanical Engineering; Adam Snyder, Mechanical Engineering. The project came together because the students wanted to combine mechanical and electrical engineering concepts and they decided this is the perfect way to do it.

“I’m very proud of these engineering students for doing such strong design work on this project,” said Dr. Sara Atwood, Director, EPIC Scholarship Program, Assistant Professor Engineering and Physics at Elizabethtown College. “They are a great example of our Elizabethtown motto ‘Educate for Service,’ and I know they’ve worked hard to engage kids of all ages and backgrounds in learning about science. Hopefully we are helping to create the next generation of young engineers with the musical fountain,” she adds.

The students spent the entire school year developing and working on the exhibit in collaboration with the Lancaster Science Factory. In a group interview, the students agreed that the ultimate purpose for the project is to get kids to develop an interest and curiosity in engineering, especially mechanical and electrical engineering. “We wanted to get kids to start to think about how this works,” said Shirk.

There was plenty of bonding time while working on the exhibit and the students laughed when they recalled how they flooded the lab one day. “We were using the basin for splash testing, but it collapsed on us. 25 gallons of water on the floor,” said James.

The Musical Water Fountain is currently on display in the Mueller Hall of Science at the Lancaster Science Factory.

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