Amazing Feats of Aging Intro to Aging The Aging Brain Healthy Aging Comparative Aging The Amazing Feats of Aging Exhibit Links
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Exhibit Description
Introductory Panel
Introductory Panel
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Step right up and see the AMAZING FEATS OF AGING! Explore the mysteries of why and how animals, including humans, age. Look into the future as you watch your face age up to 25 years. Search for the biological secrets of aging-what are the causes and is there a way to slow down the process? Discover how animals age, or, in the case of the tortoise, do they? See how scientists can double the life span of certain animal species and consider what that means to us. Marvel at the wonders of the human body and observe cells aging at different rates. Analyze the incredible human brain: is "brainpower" better at age 20 or age 60?; where are memories stored?; how does normal aging of the brain differ from disease, and what can we do about it?

Families, adults, and school groups (grades K-8) can experience it all in the AMAZING FEATS OF AGING, a new, highly interactive health science exhibition. Displayed in a fun, carnival-like environment, this hands-on exhibition focuses on the biology of aging with emphasis on aging across the animal kingdom, healthy aging, and aging of the brain. Thematic areas and exhibit components include Introduction to Aging, Aging of Animals, and The Aging Brain.

Project Advisors

Steven N. Austad, Ph. D.
University of Idaho
Jan Crocker
Boston Museum of Science
William Gaynor
OHSU Center for Healthy Aging
Malene Hansen, Ph. D.
University of California, San Francisco
Patricia McNamara
Museums in the Park
Joseph Quinn, M. D.
Oregon Health & Science University
Vicki Schmall, Ph. D.
Aging Concerns

Introduction to Aging

The introductory exhibits focus on understanding the significance of aging as a demographic, biological, and personal phenomenon. Visitors can analyze aging cells in the body, explore why and how we age, and identify strategies for healthy aging.

Introductory Panel
What is aging? Is aging a disease? Gradual or sudden? Universal or individual? A loss or a gain? Environmental or genetic? Irreversible or preventable? Explore these questions through colorful flip panels that address what aging is and what it is not (8-adult). Try the online version of this activity.

Age Machine
Come face to face with the reality that time changes your appearance. Sit at this computer station and record a black and white picture of your face. Then, using customized software, watch your face "age" up to 25 years! (8-adult)

Free Radical Attack
What causes us to age? Learn about a major cause of aging-free-radical damage inside cells. Watch a video that describes this process and play a game that simulates an energy production pathway inside a cell's mitochondria. Your goal is to minimize free-radical damage by guiding the "free radical" balls to "repair" holes and away from the "damage" holes. (8-adult)

Longer and Longer Lives
Watch balls whiz up clear tubes to form a graph of the changes in U. S. life expectancy over time. You control air currents to create a graph of the male and female life expectancy from 1850 to 2000. Compare the gains in life expectancy over time and consider how this trend could affect you in the future. (6-adult)

A Sticky Situation
What causes us to age? Feel the "before" and "after" affects of collagen cross-linking, a process that contributes to aging. Stretch collagen fibers in older and younger models to compare differences in springiness and stretchiness. Create your own older or younger collagen model by adding or removing cross-links. (6-adult)

What Can We Do About Aging?
Peek into eight different viewers to see displays of choices you can make to promote healthy aging. Actions include: (1) eat more fruits and vegetables, (2) floss your teeth, (3) protect yourself from the sun, (4) stop or avoid tobacco exposure, (5) increase your physical activity, (6) maintain a healthy weight, (7) challenge your brain, and (8) socialize with family and friends (6-adult). Try the online version of this activity.

You Are Many Ages
Find out which cells in your body are "younger," "older," and "oldest"! Compare the relative age of your skin, bones, and brain. Discover which cells are most damaged by aging, which need a steady supply of "building material" to stay healthy, which are at higher risk for cancer, and which are easier or harder to repair. (6-adult)

Aging of Animals

Each species has its own story to tell about the aging process. Visitors can compare life spans of long-lived species, explore the physiological effects of aging on different animals, and consider what our study of other species reveals about healthy aging in humans. Young children are especially drawn to exhibits on the aging of animals and can even put on a puppet show!

Amazing Aging Animals
Explore how aging varies greatly among six animals: giant tortoise, roundworm, elephant, human, bowhead whale, and quahog clam. Learn which animal has the longest life span, which one shows no signs of physical decline as it ages, which animal's life span has been extended six times longer, and more! (6-adult)

Banded Mongoose Puppet Theater
Play with puppets in a little theater to act out a story about the bond between young and old banded mongooses in East Africa. The puppeteers listen to a recording and see the story in pictures, then act it out with puppets for other visitors. Younger visitors find out how animals take care of each other. (3-adult)

Animal Families
Do animals spend time with their elders? Select from a variety of animals: lion, elephant, orca, chimpanzee, polar bear, penguin, bat, turtle, and human. Discover which animals interact with older and younger generations. (3-adult)

Older Males or Older Females?
Compare the life expectancy of males and females of different species. You control air currents to create a graph of male and female longevity for humans, gorillas, siamangs, orcas, pilot whales, and Guinea pigs. Discover how gender influences life expectancy in humans and other species. (6-adult)

Older or Younger?
Can you recognize the many signs of aging in animals? Examine teeth, bones, hair, mobility, and growth rings of various species to determine which animals are younger and which are older. Compare older and younger dogs, rockfish, horses, gorillas, rats, and roundworms (3-adult). Try the online version of this activity.

Longevity Parade
Line up nine animal cutouts (mouse, rabbit, bat, tiger, zebra, hippopotamus, elephant, human, and orca) in order from smallest to largest. Then, line them up again from shortest to longest record life span. Discover which animals live longer, why larger animals generally live longer than smaller ones, and which smaller animals are exceptions to this rule. (3-adult)

The Aging Brain

A healthy brain is central to healthy aging. Visitors can examine the changes that occur in the brain over time, distinguish between the effects of disease and healthy aging on the brain, and identify choices that enrich and nurture the brain throughout life.

Amazing Lifelong Learning
How many everyday items from the past 100 years can you identify? The items in this colorful collage are arranged chronologically in different decades. How much do you know, and how far back in time can you go? Consider how much more life experience and knowledge you gain with age. (6-adult)

Can Older Brains Learn New Tricks?
Design an environment for an older "cage potato" rat that will keep its brain healthy and stimulate brain growth. You are challenged to furnish a two-story house by choosing from a variety of items. Discover how exercise, novel challenges, and social experiences enrich the brain. Apply your discoveries to activate your own brain growth! (3-adult)

The Healthy Aging Brain
How does a healthy brain change with age? Compare PET scans and MRIs of healthy brains. What differences do you see between a healthy 27-year-old and a healthy 87-year-old brain? Discover that normal aging of the brain does not impair important functions (9-adult). Try the online version of this activity.

Think Fast!
Test your response time at this computer game and compare your results to different age groups. Your task is to quickly and correctly match number symbol pairs to a constant set of numbers and symbols. Discover how response time changes with age and some of the trade-offs between brain gains and losses as you age. (6-adult)

What About Alzheimer's Disease?
Explore diagrams, models, photographs, and microscope slides to learn how Alzheimer's disease affects the brain. Find out how the disease is diagnosed, what causes the disease, which parts of the brain are affected, and what happens to an afflicted person. (9-adult)