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Chabot Space & Science Center Uses RFID to Teach Environmental Science

The California museum's new Bill Nye's Climate Lab exhibition incorporates EPC RFID technology, enriching the way in which visitors interact with the exhibits.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
A bank of computers, each with its own reader, is available to visitors who want to create a personalized avatar for their profiles. In the center of the exhibition, a wall of LCD video monitors, known as Seeds of Change, displays a green, hilly pasture. A reader is embedded in a podium in front of the video wall, and visitors can hold their Climate Scout IDs in front of the device in order to find out how many solutions they have collected. Those who have set up an avatar will see its name and image appear on the video wall, along with the number of solutions compiled. Without an avatar, a visitor would see only a Climate Scout ID number, along with a generic image of a Climate Scout and the number of solutions associated with that ID.

The Climate Lab also exists outside the four walls of the Chabot Science Center. Visitors can log onto the Bill Nye's Climate Lab Web site and call up their profile by keying in the last four digits of their Climate IDs.


Each Climate Scout ID card has an embedded Alien Technology EPC Gen 2 inlay. (Photo courtesy of Proximity Lab)

"The Web site was developed, partly, to provide a way to extend the game-playing element of the Climate Lab," explains Tamara Schwarz, the Chabot Space and Science Center's exhibitions manager. "The game element of Climate Lab is a powerful motivator, and kids immediately get very excited that they can earn points while they're here." They can later log onto their Climate Lab Web site profile, and accrue even more points by answering questions or taking quizzes posted there. "With respect to the educational value, linking the exhibition and the Web site is a way to hopefully extend the one-time museum experience to something that lasts longer and gives kids the information that they can use in their day-to-day life."

More than 3,000 Climate Scout IDs have been issued to date, and in excess of 10,000 solutions have been awarded to the Climate Scouts.

To link the physical and virtual Climate Labs, Longwave worked with Proximity Lab, a Portsmouth, N.H., digital interactive design agency that Chabot contracted to help design the Web site and some of the physical exhibits, so that the software powering the site is linked into the database of profiles stored in the Longwave software. Chabot also hired Boston-based exhibit development firm Amaze Design to design, test and configure some of the exhibits within the Climate Lab's exhibition, and to develop their content.

USER COMMENTS

Lynne Lehmer 2010-12-12 08:07:11 AM
Contact Bill Nye Hi. How can I contact Bill Nye. I want to bring more science to Elkhart County, IN. I don't know if I can install my article, but here I will try. http://www.examiner.com/public-transit-travel-in-south-bend/if-i-were-the-public-transit-god-for-northern-indiana It didn't go as a link, but read it if you want. Elkhart county is in very northern Indiana. It has been hit hard by the economy problem. I have an idea and put it forth in this article. I don't think people around here think like me, so I am looking out of this area for ideas.
Rich Handley 2010-12-13 07:28:49 AM
Contacting Bill Nye The quickest way to contact Bill Nye would be through his site, http://www.billnye.com. There's a "Contact Bill" button on the top right of the page.

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