Walking into the new Science Garage exhibit at the TELUS World of Science, I could not help but feel like a kid again. I wanted to try out everything in the exhibit and was bouncing off the walls with excitement. It is only fitting that the Rhoads’ sculpture, or audio-kinetic sculpture, at the center of the exhibit was the inspiration for the space. The sculpture of little metal balls rolling on tracks triggers a succession of musical sounds, evoking a playful ambiance that captures the excitement of discovery and exuberance of experiential learning.
The new exhibit invites guests to tinker and test their way through a number of challenges and to dance, climb, and play with the interactive displays.“The whole idea is fun. If someone comes in here and doesn’t have fun or a smile on their face, then we are not doing our job. And there [is] some learning happening at the same time. It is very fundamental science and physics happening here that everybody can learn by doing,” Dan Alfano, Manager of the Science Garage explains. A University of Alberta Education graduate himself, Dan admits that as a child, he too had visited the science center as a kid with great enthusiasm. He has been involved with the TELUS World of Science sharing that passion with others for over five years. “I definitely was that science kid that was tinkering around at home and playing with things [and] experimenting with them. We are hoping this space can be that experimental place for kids.”
The exhibit proved to be one that all ages could enjoy. Kids were ecstatic to give the Freedom Climber Wall, a rotating rock climbing wall, their best shot, while parents and kids of all ages danced, dashed and discoed on the Kinetic Dance Floor to provide energy to charge a cellphone. Little ones tested their creations in the Vertical Wind Tunnels, and even President and CEO of the TELUS World of Science Edmonton, Alan Nursall, jumped in on the fun as he experimented with the Frozen Shadow Wall.
“[At] lots of the stations here, even if there’s really young kids, we will encourage the adults to work with them. It encourages teamwork, and of course it’s fun for all ages. There’s varying levels in which you can experience the exhibit as well,” Dan added.
A Maker Space in the back of the exhibit also provides a space for participants to learn to build circuits, create “ChrisMATH” cards, and learn to experiment with other scientific endeavors. Technology of a new generation — such as the augmented reality sandbox, which adjusts to changing terrain in real time to display water flow and changing altitudes — is incorporated into the exhibit, allowing visitors to experience innovative ways of learning.
The Science Garage truly has a whimsical charm that mirrors the essence of its centerpiece. George Rhoads designed his sculptures — now featured in airports, museums and hospitals worldwide — to demystify machinery and delight viewers. It clearly has been much more of an inspiration at the TELUS World of Science. The sculpture captivates visitors through sight and sound, embodying the adventure and exhilaration that often accompanies scientific exploration. The Science Garage allows everyone to have their “Eureka!” moment and experience the joy, passion and excitement of discovery.
Photography courtesy of Wanderer Online Marketing Director Jeff Tao.