science centers & museums
Atoms & Molecules
Discovery Cube Orange County & Discovery Cube Los Angeles
Los Angeles & Santa Ana, California
Chemistry. Let’s face it, there are few among us who enjoyed chemistry in grade school, let alone remember it. Making it the theme for an exhibit for a children’s museum just seems like you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Is it possible to engage kids and teach them something before they realize they are learning? Chemistry? How?
Here is our recipe: Make it tactile. Use high-tech tools. Design an engaging interface. And make it a game.
After Kindergarten we seem to forget the importance of touch in learning. Tactile feedback can help us create strong connections to the subject material, and that’s the approach we took with “Atoms & Molecules”. After quickly learning some basic rules about atoms, kids are challenged to make a series of molecules, each one building on the previous challenge. Their tools? Custom designed “tinker toys” representing atoms and bonds to connect them, and a glowing green button. Our tools? An overhead camera, our software doing real-time computer vision, and engaging graphics, animations, and sound to guide kids along the way.
The result? A chemistry lesson disguised as a tactile, high-tech game. Kids end up spending 15 minutes playing all challenges and learning the basic building blocks of chemistry. And although this exhibit is aimed for 4th and 5th graders, we’ve seen kids and adults of all ages playing this game, making it one of the most popular exhibits at the Discovery Cube museums. Originally designed for the opening of the Cube in Los Angeles, its success led almost immediately to a second exhibit, built for the Orange County location.
Our interactive show control software library, Diva, was used as the backbone for the control of the game.
Following are bonus animations we created showing sources and effects of air pollution.