BY JOE MARVILLI
The New York Hall of Science is aiming for a whole new level of interactivity with a permanent exhibit coming in June.
On June 7, the Hall of Science will open its Design Lab, a new exhibition meant to get people more involved with science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Design Lab lets people experiment with structures, circuits, simple materials and more.
The Design Lab was born out of the success of the Maker Faire, an annual showcase of technology enthusiasts and exhibitors, who come together to display their creations and what they have learned in the process.
“We’ve been interested in design-based learning for quite some time,” Eric Siegel, director and Chief Creative Officer of NYSCI, said. “Since we started the Maker Faire, we started to see how engaged people become when they have a simple set of materials to work with. This is a way to broaden the pathway in those types of interest.”
Set on the lower level of the Central Pavilion, the Design Lab is split into five pods: Backstage, Sandbox, Studio, Treehouse and Maker Space.
In Backstage, visitors will come up with solutions to performance-based activities, such as creating jointed shadow puppets out of index cards, fasteners, sticks and tape. Sandbox will challenge visitors to create sturdy structures they can stand inside. Museumgoers will come up with small pieces that will be added to a collaborative project in Studio. Treehouse is a split-level area whose activities all require a vertical drop. Maker Space, which opened in 2012, converts ideas into prototypes with simple tools.
“The names of the spaces are evocative of childhood,” Siegel said. “It’s really about the different scale and types of activities.”
Siegel added that these activities, which will change every few months while keeping the design lab in place, offers visitors a type of education that is particularly appealing to young people today.
“We’re going the extra step of interactivity by giving people materials and challenges,” he said. “There’s a lot of research that shows a lot of young people are engaged in the types of activities where they get to do something.”
The Design Lab is opening in time for the Hall of Science’s 50th anniversary, which the venue will also mark by reopening the Great Hall that was originally built for the 1964-65 World’s Fair.
Summer hours for Design Lab activities are Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
For more information on the Design Lab and other exhibits, visit www.nysci.org.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.