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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

Bill Nye's Climate Lab Online

People's Choice:
9 votes


Chabot Space & Science Center


Proximity Lab



Why offers fun missions and activities that increase climate literacy and teach energy-saving strategies to youth ages 8 – 14 for many areas of daily life. But it’s more than just a Web site – consistent with the standards for the Education category, the site seamlessly integrates the experiences of a “real” visit to the Chabot Space & Science Center with the activities of the online Climate Lab.

The new hands-on exhibition at Chabot, Bill Nye's Climate Lab (featuring celebrity science guru, Bill Nye), explores the effects of climate change on Earth's interconnected systems; use of the sun, wind, land, and water to generate clean energy; and innovative technology and design that will yield long-term benefits for human health and the planet. Each visitor to the exhibit receives a unique “Climate Scout ID” – an RFID card that is automatically detected and read as a visitor moves from exhibit to exhibit, achieving solutions to climate challenges and earning points. Exhibit activity is stored on the Climate Scout ID, which can be taken home and used to log in on


Once online, the user can continue their exhibit experience, completing more missions to reduce their climate impact, increasing their score, and learning valuable behavior that translates to the real world – in line with the Education category’s goal of provisioning non-curriculum-based learning experiences and supporting lifelong learning activities.


In the exhibit, users can “Bike with Bill,” riding a real bicycle alongside a to-scale video of Bill Nye for points on their Climate Scout ID. At home, logged into, they can increase their points further by completing a transit tracker activity, or designing their own energy-efficient vehicle as part of the “Driving Change” mission.


The Web site makes extensive use of rich media. Bill Nye himself appears as the overall experience host, giving enthusiastic introduction videos to missions and activities.

Time-based activities encourage repeat visits to the site, as in the “Virtual Garden.” Here, a user learns about the benefits of different garden plants and crops, then plants, waters, and tends them in a garden of their design. The user is then instructed to return in a set amount of time to view the garden’s progress, and to ensure its success with tasks such as weeding and fertilizing.

To further the goal of effecting behavior change, great care was taken to blend tasks that could be done virtually with tasks that must be done in the real world in the Web site’s missions. In the “Add It Up” activity, users earn points by tracking how many real-world actions they’ve taken from a list of suggestions for reducing, reusing, and recycling.

The Web site’s Scorecard feature keeps track of each user’s individual progress—completed missions, activities in progress, points earned—and allows the user to compare their progress to the community’s total statistics.