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New Science Gallery exhibit takes shape!

It’s been a while since I have updated this blog, because I have been working on the next big exhibit for the Science Gallery. “Lake Winnipeg: Shared Solutions” is scheduled to open in March 2014, but a big piece of it is being installed this week so we can do on-site testing and evaluation of the prototype. The exhibit addresses the health of Lake Winnipeg and what feeds into that (complicated) issue.

The Alpha version of the Watershed of the Future simulator in the workshop in Vancouver.

The Alpha version of the Watershed of the Future simulator in the workshop in Vancouver.

The exhibit is a partnership between The Manitoba Museum and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, with support from a diverse group of stakeholders. The completed exhibit will have images, text panels, a live aquarium, and insect and plant specimens, but the centrepiece is the Watershed of the Future simulator. Basically, we have built the Lake Winnipeg Watershed in a computer, and visitors will be able to become Lake Stewards, controlling all of the decisions in Manitoba that impact the health of the lake. It’s a hugely complicated piece of exhibitry, with 8 touch screens, a giant projector table, and a rack of computers, running custom software developed in concert with a huge group of experts and stakeholders from around the province. To make sure we have gotten it right, and also that it is a fun experience for the average person, the simulator is being installed this week, and we’ll be opening it up for testing over the coming month so we can refine the experience.

This is the first time we’ve been able to do a “Beta” test of an exhibit like this. It’s a great way to make sure the exhibit works properly, but also allows us to refine things like the timing of the experience, clarity of instructions, and complexity of the experience. We’ve spent a long time making this as accurate an exhibit as we can; now we want to make sure it is also as fun and interesting as it can be.

I’ll be posting more about Lake Winnipeg Shared Solutions in the coming weeks as the exhibit is installed and testing continues. We’ll be bringing in the experts and stakeholders who helped develop the simulator, but we’re also interested in feedback from the Museum’s regular visitors: school groups and the general public. If you’d like to be a part of our testing process, drop me an email and we’ll hook you up.

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Scott Young

Manager of Science Communications and Visitor Experiences

“Scott is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, developing astronomy and science programs. He has been an informal science educator for thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at The Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Scott is an active amateur astronomer and a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.”