Question Power


A BayScapes garden uses native plants that are adapted to survive in the soil and climate. As such, routine watering and pesticide or fertilizer use is not necessary to maintain a flourishing garden. Planting a BayScapes garden reduces the amount of fertilizers and pesticides that flow into the James River and the Chesapeake Bay. As an added bonus, the garden provides a habitat for birds and insects.

BayScapes Garden

BayScaping is an environmentally sound method of landscaping which benefits people, wildlife and the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. Our BayScapes garden uses plants native to the area and it needs less water, pesticides, fertilizer and mowing than a traditional garden.

BayScapes is part of our ongoing Rainkeepers Initiative.


How does it work?

Bioretention areas are used to remove a wide range of pollutants and can help reduce stormwater runoff flow rates.  They are commonly used in parking lot islands or in small areas of a developed site.

Bioretention areas use vegetation such as shrubs, trees and grasses to filter and treat stormwater runoff and are modeled after the biological and physical characteristics of a terrestrial forest or meadow ecosystem.  Stormwater runoff may be directly diverted to bioretention areas overland or through a stormwater drainage system.

Bioretention at the Science Museum of Virginia

The Museum is installing multiple bioretention areas in the islands located throughout the front side parking lot. Bioretention areas are indicated by blue arrows. Red lines indicate water drainage. Notice the amount of rainwater that is redirected into the bioretention areas and tree box planter sites.


Explore extinction, biodiversity and mutation in nature. Take a look at a diagram that follows the existence of organisms from 4 billion years ago to today. Learn about the effects of carbon emissions, the greenhouse effect and global warming.


Spark your sense of wonder by learning key concepts of electricity. Pedal a stationary bike and see how much energy you can generate. Compare your energy output to that of a wind turbine. Create a current and make electricity.

Green Roof

Unlike buildings with standard roof systems of asphalt, concrete or shingles, a green roof is covered with soil and vegetation. Trees and plants can help trap water and prevent stormwater run-off. In addition, the vegetation on a green roof provides a lighter colored surface, thereby reducing heat absorption.

Green Roof at the Science Museum of Virginia

The Science Museum is installing a green roof around the IMAX DOME. A black roof adjacent to the green roof will serve as a “control area.” Each roof will have sensors to monitor environmental factors such as temperature and rainfall.

Porous Pavers

Porous pavement has similar strength and appearance to regular pavement, but is permeable so that runoff (rainwater) can flow directly through its surface and into the soil. As a result, less water flows into the street sewer system.

The parking lot located on the side of Science Museum will have a section of porous pavement to allow rainwater to easily drain into the ground below.

Question Power

The sun, fossil fuels and wind – our world today is powered by multiple types of energy.  Explore the latest innovations in solar power, agriculture and wind turbines.

Rainkeepers Project Initiative

The Science Museum of Virginia is working with key partners to develop an environmental site design, demonstration, education and training center.  Stormwater management technologies are being incorporated on-site at the Museum’s Broad Street location

Our project initiatives include six dynamic elements:

  • green roof
  • BayScapes garden
  • tree box filters
  • bioretention areas
  • porous pavers
  • rainwater harvesting system

The Museum will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the improvements during and after the installation.

Training and certification programs for professionals and laypersons are being developed to support the installation and implementation of stormwater management technologies within Richmond and surrounding communities.

The Museum is also working with partners to study the effects of stormwater technologies on the entire sewer drainage area to the James River. Included in the study will be the Shockoe Creek watershed which serves as the combined sewage overflow for the city of Richmond.  This study will collect and analyze data to assist stormwater management planning for the future and will look at possible impacts of climate change.

Rainwater Harvesting System

How does it work?

 A rainwater harvesting system captures, diverts and stores rainwater for later use. 

Rainwater harvesting at the Science Museum

The Museum is installing a rainwater harvesting system to collect water runoff from one of the train canopies located behind the Museum. This water will be diverted to a holding tank where it will be stored and later used to irrigate the Museum’s Green Acre.