When the Earth Shakes
Opening January 15! 

Delve into the science of earthquakes, tectonic plates, and tsunamis, and find out what earthquake engineers are doing to make our world safer. Immerse yourself in interactive earthquake exhibits.  Jump up and down on a platform, changing how hard you jump, and match the seismogram from an historic earthquake! Watch how the continents move and re-form as you spin the dial through geologic history, from 600 million years ago all the way to 200 million years in the future! See where earthquakes happen all around the world on the Seismic Monitor that shows them in real time; you can see the many hundreds that occur every week and how strong they were.  Maybe there was one in your area, too! 

See the fast-paced videos of engineers working to make our world safer by using amazing tools and technology to test and improve building techniques and materials. In Puzzled Earth, how quickly can you assemble the map of giant tectonic plates?  Hurry, you have 2 minutes before the pieces fall! Test your engineering skills as you design and build your own model of an earthquake-safe building out of blocks and reinforcing rods on the Shake Table platform; then start the quake and see if your structure holds up. Turn the dial to make it shake faster or slower! Can you improve your design and make your building safer?

Explore the science of tsunami waves. Build a structure, then make waves crash on a ‘beach’ in the 16-foot-long Tsunami Tank. Did your structure hold up? Spin the dial, replay the impact in slow-motion, then improve your design. Can it withstand more powerful waves? Find out what happens when you add a seawall.  

When the Earth Shakes was sponsored by NEES, the National Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, a group of 14 university research facilities where engineers and scientists have tested buildings and structures with giant shake tables, centrifuges, a tsunami wave basin, and other large-scale equipment. 

Bring your family to the Clay Center and experience the science of earthquakes and earthquake engineering! When the Earth Shakes will be on display through May 8, 2022. This exhibition was developed by Sciencenter in Ithaca, New York, with funding from the National Science Foundation and NEES, the National Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation and is presented at the Clay Center with support from Children’s Dentistry of Charleston, the Daywood Foundation, and the Bernard H. and Blanche E. Jacobson .

My Town

Enter a town much like Charleston but on a kid’s scale. In My Town, the kids have the jobs, get to spend (imaginary) money and participate in fun activities every day! Will your child be a veterinarian today? What about a mechanic? They can even be mayor! The possibilities are endless in this hands-on city of fun!

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Healthy Me

Focusing on the human body in motion, Healthy Me will provide a safe environment for guests to test their physical skills, and help them learn why regular physical activity is essential to their health. Within the exhibit, guests will investigate body systems (skeletal, muscular, circulatory, nervous, as well as organs) to learn about their function and how they work together. They will also measure themselves as they stretch, raise their heart rates, test their balance and reaction time, and try to increase their skills at various sporting events. Healthy Me will help guests understand that engaging in healthy lifestyle choices now will reduce risk of disease later in life and will allow guests to challenge themselves physically and receive positive feedback in exchange for effort.


In WaterWorks visitors play and work with water along sweeping flow routes, dramatic water falls, controlling the water to animate and energize everything in its path in an expression of water’s power. Along the way, they will experience the potential, kinetic and mechanical energy of water. Activities include turning a large water wheel to generate “electricity”, opening and closing a dam’s water into the river, guiding boats through a lock system blocking, releasing and re-routing water, and many other engaging activities, including water play (funnels, scooping and pouring) for toddlers.

Maier Foundation Music Studio 

Generously underwritten by the Maier Foundation, the Maier Foundation Music Studio is a place where visitors make and explore music together. Visitors see, listen to, move to, and create their own music; examine the scientific foundations of music they hear; and explore the mathematical concepts of rhythm, pattern, and harmony. Some instruments will, at first glance, be a puzzle – how can this thing make music? Other instruments will appear to play themselves. Group “events” can be seen throughout the space: a multi-station futuristic music machine, a circular thumb piano that multiple people can play simultaneously; a giant slinky suspended overhead that teaches children the basics of longitudinal waves. At the Recording Studio, visitors play sound engineer mixing “tracks” of a song to perfection. The exhibit is comprised of four basic areas: Experience Music, the Instrument Studio, Composing and Good Vibrations.

Suddenlink by Altice Interactive Art Space

Explore art in new and exciting ways! The Juliet Art Museum is now home to a brand new, interactive Art Space!  In Art Space guests of all ages can explore basic art principles while having fun!  Spin the wheel of color and learn about the basic elements of color and color theory.  How do we perceive color and what the context of color?  Explore digitized art and the basics of digitized illustrations on our giant pixel wall!  Test your balance by making your own mobile, create your own mural and curate your own exhibition!  The creativity doesn’t stop there – budding film makers can explore stop motion animation and make their own films.

Ashton’s Climbing Sculpture

See all three stories of the Clay Center from a new perspective as you climb a work of art. From kids to adults, everyone can take part in this interactive exhibit.

Ashton’s Climbing Sculpture Rules:
– Must be at least 40″ to climb
– Shoes must be tied securely
– No sandals, bare feet or heels
– Remove loose articles from pockets and store in cubby
– No food or gum

This climb is challenging!

You should NOT climb if:
– You are afraid of heights
– You do not like tight spaces
– You are prone to dizziness
– You are pregnant
– You have heart or blood pressure issues
– You have any medical condition that could impair you while climbing