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New miSci exhibit aims to make science fun

Thursday, June 13, 2013
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Price Chopper CEO, Neil Golub, and miSci Executive Director, Mac Sudduth interact with a Avalanche display piece, during the sneak peek on "Notion of Motion" hands on exhibit that will open to the public on Saturday. This exhibit shows how movements of the earth's surface build mountains, while wind and rain wear them away in a miniature landscape that appears and disappears while being rotated.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Price Chopper CEO, Neil Golub, and miSci Executive Director, Mac Sudduth interact with a Avalanche display piece, during the sneak peek on "Notion of Motion" hands on exhibit that will open to the public on Saturday. This exhibit shows how movements of the earth's surface build mountains, while wind and rain wear them away in a miniature landscape that appears and disappears while being rotated.

— Discover the “Notion of Motion” at the Museum of Innovation and Science’s newest exhibit, opening Saturday.

The exhibit was brought in from San Francisco’s Exploratorium Museum, a museum of science, art, and human perception known worldwide for its hands-on approach to learning. The exhibit will be in Schenectady until next June and features 30 different experiences in the world of motion.

The interactive exhibit is almost completely user-operated. With the turn of a crank, pull of a lever, or spin of a dial, visitors can experience the physics behind natural phenomena and everyday movement. And while the focus is on getting kids excited about technology and science, the exhibit is fun for all ages.

The exhibit is part of a five-year agreement between miSci and the Exploratorium, with a different theme every year. This year’s motion theme follows last year’s optics-based exhibit, with sound to follow next summer. It is provided by ExNet, a company based out of the Exploratorium that provides exhibit-based teaching outside the San Francisco area.

Some of the museum’s older, classic artifacts surround the exhibit. With a penny-farthing — or high-wheel bicycle — a soapbox car, movie equipment, a zoetrope and other optical illusions, the museum staff has incorporated a history of motion into an otherwise future-based experience.

The conversion of the former Schenectady Museum into a museum of technology and science is part of a project funded by the Golub family and National Grid to bring a greater interest in the sciences to Schenectady.

For Neil Golub, the new exhibit is a way to get kids interested in the increasingly important STEM fields of work: science, technology, engineering and mathematics, especially as the Capital Region quickly becomes a worldwide competitor. He and his family began working with National Grid a year ago to turn the museum into something special and exciting, for adults and their children.

As Golub experienced the “Notion of Motion” exhibit for the first time, he was overjoyed with what he could learn. “Air acts like a liquid, did you know that? I didn’t and maybe it’s because I haven’t been in a physics class in a long time, but the principles are in these exhibits to engage children from a young age and get them interested in the growing market of tech jobs in the Capital Region,” he said.

Those principles create a unique aspect of learning for children of almost any age. Young, elementary-age students can gain interest from the hands-on aspect, watching their actions create varying reactions, while older children can apply what they learn in school to gain a deeper understanding of the events and their outcomes.

The miSci staff is planning to train “explainers,” or tour guide-like teen volunteers, to teach visitors about the exhibit.

They also plan to eventually offer workshops for local teachers and an outreach program to bring museum experiences into the classroom, according to Mac Sudduth, executive director of miSci. The future of the museum as a strong contributor to the community and an exciting place for children to visit for years to come was the overall mission of the Golubs and National Grid’s partnership.

“We wanted to create a windstorm of activity in Schenectady, and the Exploratorium is the gold standard of science museums, and we now have a wonderful contract with them,” Golub said.

 
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