A few weeks ago I had the ability to visit the Boston Museum of Science with my family. Truthfully, I was not very excited about spending a gorgeous day in Boston stuck inside. However, my opinion quickly changed. I was simply amazed at how the MOS can take difficult, hard to learn principles and make them fun. In addition, it was amazing to see how they use technology, particularly AV technology, to accomplish this goal.
One of our first stops was at the domed IMAX theater. We watched a film about cave explorers and the search for medicinal solutions from the microbes that live in these caves. The technology was simply awe inspiring. I would love to some day get a tour of behind the screens and see exactly how they run that technology. Maybe rAVe can get me in there on some type of press pass! Most importantly though, is that the film left my 10 and 12 year old questions things. It left them inspired to learn about things on their own.
Some of the caves that were explored were underwater. The cave explorers where specifically looking for a Halocline, a spot where fresh water and salt water meet. They wanted samples of the live forms that lived in these spots. The video was so amazing, that it left my kids asking questions. Why is there salt water under fresh water? Why don’t salt water and fresh water mix? How big are these living things the explorers are finding? How could a small sample of water produce medicine?
Also, the questions were not always what you would expect. My son was particularly interested in how the divers got into these spaces. How did they find their way out? How do they find these caves in the first place? What tools and technology did they use to scale those big caves and canyons?
Another fascinating stop was at the planetarium. Again, amazing technology on display to help us learn about the moons in our solar system. As an adult I learned many things, and my kids experiences the same. Again, questions were asked and curiosity was piqued. Why does Earth only have one moon, when other planets have dozens? Why is the moon so hard to get to today, when we did it 50 years ago? Amazing and interesting questions that we further explored to get some answers to.
Certainly, I can not suggest that every school should have it’s own IMAX theater or high tech planetarium (although that would ROCK!). What I take out of this is to question how we can use technology to inspire kids to learn.
So, while we can not have an IMAX theater in every school, we should have rooms that can show good quality video. What if every school had a quality theater, that could show the BBC’s “Earth”. What if we could incorporate MythBusters into a science, math and english curriculum. Again, shown in a way that is interesting and awe inspiring, not on a 27″ tube TV parked in the front of a 25 student classroom.
It does not need to be expensive, crazy technology either. At the MOS they had many smaller exhibits and experiments, that would cost lest money, but still inspiring. Something as simple as a power meter, that you got to watch speed up and slow down as you pressed buttons simulating various power draws. A television at this location explained a few basic concepts of power and energy conservation.
If integrators, software developers and manufacturers put some energy into creating affordable solutions for this type of technology, designed to foster curiosity, we could advance education in our country