Hands-on exhibit shows principles at work on gridiron

By Corene Brisendine

For those who need a football fix during this off-season lull, the Flint Hills Discovery Center has just what the doctor ordered.

Or maybe that should be “what the coach ordered.”

In the spirit of the center’s mission, “Football” is an interactive exhibit that demonstrates the science, math and technology behind the game — and it will be on display from Saturday through June 1.

Pamela Kulokas, outreach coordinator for the center, said that FHDC’s goal is to educate the public about the Flint Hills — geographically, historically and culturally.

She said that the game of football is definitely a part of today’s regional culture. The traveling exhibit — “Football” — from the Museum of Discovery lets people explore why it is such a popular part of the Flint Hills.

“The game of football is a uniquely American sport that millions of Americans have embraced and participated in for more than a century,” said Fred Goss, Discovery Center director.

“The football exhibition provides a unique view of the sport, with the visitor gaining a greater understanding of the game in a way not seen from the stadium seat or living room.”

Daniel Guyton, the exhibit’s technician from the Museum of Discovery, said that it allows visitors to practice throwing the football like a quarterback, sprint like a wide receiver, feel the force of spinning out of a tackle, test reflexes to sight and sound, as well as checking balance at the line of scrimmage.

Guyton, who helped create the exhibit, said that it is more than just about the game on the field.

The exhibit also allows visitors to explore a spectator’s role in the game with tailgating and fan-based games played at home. There is even a section on how cheerleading gets the crowd and players pumped up.

Another station in the exhibit shows the evolution of the helmet, and how padding has changed the game by protecting players from injury.

Guyton said that the exhibit began touring about 12 years ago.

He said he wants to take it back home soon and give it a “much needed” face lift by including more online content (fantasy football, for instance) and giving the pictures a more “neutral” look and feel to help highlight local teams and colors rather than the dated team colors and uniforms the exhibit currently displays.

Also, once a month for the duration of the exhibit, the center will have “event days” – with coaches and players from schools across the region on hand to talk about their experiences.

The schedule: Kansas State on Feb. 8, Emporia State on March 8, Butler Community College on April 12, and Flint Hills area high schools on May 10.

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