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River Alive! Exhibits Fabrication Part 3

We’re almost finished with the fabrication of The Independence Seaport Museum‘s River Alive! exhibits and are so excited to get the finishing touches in place and ship them to Philadelphia so that museum visitors can start playing (and learning!) with them.

Here is a breakdown of each exhibit to give our followers a better understanding of the user experience.

River Continuum The centerpiece of the River Alive! exhibition, River Continuum is an interactive media expression of the amazingly diverse life in and around the Delaware River. From the smallest phytoplankton to fish, birds, bears-even humans-River Continuum places them all in a moving, changing ecosystem. To create this varied view of the river, visitors must physically activate five highly engaging “input stations” (e.g., blowing through a small ring, rolling a glowing orb, playing a drum). As they activate these stations, the life in the river builds. Trees grow, grasses wave, eels wriggle, mussels appear, butterflies and birds swoop about. As visitors collaborate to build diversity, special “surprise moments,” like an explosion of butterflies or a sudden rush of migrating fish or burst of ship traffic, are triggered that take over and wash across the wall. The more the visitors work together, the more wonderful moments of delight they will discover.

Rate the Risk Visitors are encouraged to consider three simple environmental risk concepts (pollution, the loss of species, climate change, the quality of tap water, the impact of individual actions, nonpoint vs. point pollution, etc.) and vote on “What concerns you most?” To vote, they place a red Plexiglas peg in a hole surrounding that risk, which then lights up like a Lite Brite. They can move pegs from one risk to another as they wish, creating an ever-changing physical expression of collective opinion.

Water Cycle Puzzle

Visitors puzzle out the water cycle-including the human intrusion into the natural process through the urban water use cycle-by placing 12 pucks representing different key points of the cycle onto a schematic background graphic. Magnets hold the pucks in place on the slanted vertical graphic. As a puck is placed in its correct spot, it would trigger embedded LEDs to light up, representing that part of the endless flow of the water cycle. When all pucks are in the right place, all the LEDs would be lit and connected, causing them to flash, indicating the visitor’s success. A reset button would switch off the electromagnets holding the pucks in place, causing them to slide off the slanted graphic and back into a holding bin at the base of the graphic.

Watershed Modeling Visitors experiment with hands-on damming up of the tank and creating channels to direct the flow of the water, or simply allow the weight of the water to break the dams. There is a pinwheel that will spin when placed in the current and several small boats, fish, and crayfish that will float (or move along the bottom) and swirl around in the eddies created by the dams. The flowing water moves downstream to drain before the water is filtered and recirculated. The water is filtered before getting recirculated by a particulate and ultraviolet filter, as well as a copper ion generator to help kill any germs. Water levels are controlled by a micro-controller to prevent overflow in the event of large dams.

Check out past posts for more on the fabrication of these exhibits and behind-the-scenes photos: Fabrication Begins, Fabrication Part 2.


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