Science Museum Exhibits - Creating a Nobel Prizewinner

Most scientists and engineers get their interest in technical topics at an early age. In my case, it was about 4th grade (9 years old.) An excitement for science at this early age provides the motivation for all the subsequent hard work needed to learn about our universe and our technologies.

Unfortunately, the American public school system is notably weak on science teaching in the early grades. Good science teachers are in short supply in all grades, but especially for the students at this formative stage. These kids often must become autodidacts: they often have to investigate this cool stuff for themselves, perhaps in spite of their school work. (I remember being very proud that my sixth grade report card said that I probably knew more science than the science teacher. I am not proud any more, I am disgusted. I was attending one of the highest-rated public school systems in the nation.)

So I've decided to extend my original science museum exhibit software, and give the results away in the hopes that it will help kids (and their beleaguered science teachers) explore some aspects of science and math further. A good science museum exhibit will teach and entertain if used for only a couple of minutes, when there is a line waiting to use the exhibit. Ideally, what is going on at the exhibit should be visible to the rest, so they can get the hang of it while they are waiting.

But the best exhibits are those with depth, those that can keep interest for half an hour or more on a quite day. I hope that most of these meet that goal, and that they will be used at home or in quiet moments in school PC labs.

It takes a lot of people to make a Nobel prizewinner, and I have no illusions that I will actually meet one who was stimulated by these exhibits. But you never know.

I welcome assistance and ideas for new exhibits.

Exhibits

The following exhibits have working prototypes:

Further information

History

In the early 1990s The Liberty Science Center, then under construction, came to Bell Labs and asked Gerard Holtzmann to implement his Digital Darkroom work as an interactive science exhibit. Gerard came to me, and we developed the Digital Darkroom.

Now it is now more than a decade later, CPUS are 100 times faster, the Liberty Science Center is about to launch a 22 month remodeling effort, and the folks in Chattanooga are having trouble finding replacement Targa boards for their version, the Portrait Style Station.

So I am updating the software, and designing new exhibits. The software will be available without charge to the public. I hope it will be used in science museums, schools, and perhaps doctors' waiting rooms.