Science and Children
the visitor journey cia mooney served as the exhibition planning and design consultant for the new science discovery museum in acton, ma. this 8500 square feet children's museum is a deeply hands-on experience covering earth sciences, math, sound, light and color.
drawing by cia mooney
exhibition design for the science discovery museum by cia mooney with the museum's founding director, donald verger.
video: science discovery museum
the vortex upon entering the museum, children discover the vortex exhibits illustrating whirlpools, tornadoes and gravity wells. an open whirlpool lets children experience the behavior of weight and shape inside the energy of the vortex.
where feasible, the inner workings of the exhibits were left visible and early prototypes underwent visitor-testing.
the famous Aalto stool, "60E", was chosen for its functionality as a seat-table suitable for young children. the museum's exhibit structures were designed in clear maple and functional components were left visible.
changing scale a really big whirlpool with speed adjustments allows children to explore cause and effect. smaller whirlpools and images surrounding the area highlight the vortex in nature through displays on wind, tides and currents.
user testing early prototypes of the tornado exhibit were open to the public to gain feedback. here, a very young visitor inside the test chamber gets lost in the mist.
the exploratorium cookbooks
the resonant pendulum (background) and the catenary arch are exhibits first conceived by the exploratorium museum in san francisco. learning principles are defined in their "cookbook" series (the books are a great tool for experiencing science.)
the catenary arch allows the visitor to assemble an arch out of many slender wooden blocks that can stand due to their catenary shape.
the resonant pendulum allows the visitor to swing a small magnet onto a steel-wrapped, concrete-filled pendulum. the pendulum can only be lightly pulled with the weak magnet and moves only if it is pulled in time (in resonance) with its natural frequency.
probability at the entry to the math area, the probability exhibit allows children to randomly drop balls across a series of pegs resulting in an inevitable visual picture of a bell curve. inspired by charles and ray eames' mathematica exhibit, the bell curve is the foundation of probability theory and statistics.
characteristics of geometry learning by doing is a natural path for young minds. here, children explore shape, area, perimeter and patterns using "geoboards" that are ganged together to create a large cube. placing rubber bands around the protruding pegs on the 5 surfaces of the cube, children solve mathematical puzzles.
we sought to create ideas that would engage boys and girls equally, but respectful of independent learning styles.
geode worktable a quiet nook for the immersive study of rocks, geodes and fossils lets children and their caregivers focus on geology. simple chalkboard signage explains the exhibit's objectives and books are carefully chosen to support learning.
water world from building dams and bridges to water wheels and measuring devices, curious minds are set free to explore.
pipes of pan a classic exploratorium exhibit dealing with sound, glass tubes of varying lengths resonate at different frequencies. by listening carefully, the visitor hears a progression of low to high tones.
unique to this museum, we used pyrex glass tubes built onto a round sonotube that stretched 2 stories high. the round shape improved limited floor space, allowed for an array of multiple users and made the pipes' sounds distinctly different.