info @ archimuse.com
published April 1998
updated Nov. 2010
- Inspired by the Exploratorium, the Bristol Exploratory pioneered
hands-on science in Britain. At the time this was the only interactive
kind of public education about science.
Runs VHS video clip from Exploratory (30 secs), and describes
the Exploratory and how it was founded by Richard Gregory. Brought
interactivity into the science curriculum. Links to
Exploratory web site to illustrate.
- On television, BBC Science in London with 'Horizon' (shown in
North America under the name 'Nova' through WGBH), and the BBC Natural
History Unit, based in Bristol, led the world in serious science
and nature programmes.
Runs short 'Life on Earth' clip. Explains how Chris Parsons,
who made that series, conceived of both Wildscreen World and the
ARKive. Runs short video about the
ARKive and describes how it will work.
- On the science side, we are only just beginning to develop our
hands-on exhibits for the new Bristol centre. To add to the physical
interactivity established at the Exploratory, we'll also be developing
virtual reality exhibits, sometimes linked to simulators. It's not
too difficult to devise exhibits which illustrate Newtonian physics
- Einstein is a different matter. But in a virtual world you could,
for example, see what would happen if you changed the speed of light.
Would you get heavier? Would time slow down for you? Then, if you
used scaleable authoring software, we can provide small-scale versions
of such 3D environments on the web.
- On the Internet, we also plan to provide a great deal of marketing
and educational material to complement what we shall be doing in
the building itself. For a visitor to Science World, the visit itself
should be like the jam in a sandwich: the bread each side (the educational
material) is what makes it worth eating. In this analogy the jam
represents the sweet experience of the actual visit.
- We plan to go live on line this year, more than a year before
the new centre actually opens. But we could scarcely do better than
the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the earliest science centre
of all, in creating a valuable and enjoyable web site.
Illustrates with examples from
Exploratorium web site
- On-line generally, now that the costs of video-conferencing and
connecting via ISDN are falling so quickly, the opportunities are
Illustrates with short VHS tape of Irish music groups in
Dublin, Paris and New York playing on-line together on St Patrick's
This was done nearly two years ago now, and soon everyone will
be able to play.
- Using such technologies, we would like to combine real-science,
hands-on science and on-line links. For example, groups of kids
in the afternoons in Bristol could use a solar telescope to measure
the angle of the sun, while similar groups did the same thing in
the mornings in a Canadian science centre. If these groups were
linked with video phones or a video conferencing system, and shared
data with one another, they could really measure the circumference
of the earth. Given sunshine both sides of the Atlantic, what we
then have to work out of course is just how to schedule and manage
this sort of session.
- We also plan to develop a science news room in Science World,
and we are working with the University
of the West of England as this idea is developed. In this project
we want to collaborate with many other centres because news content
is very expensive to develop, and because this will keep our visitors
in touch with the wider world.
Illustrates with images from the news room project.
We hope to have a rota of volunteer experts, available live
on-line to our visitors and ready to answer visitors' questions
(in text, audio, or video) about the news of the moment.
- Like many other organisations, we shall also establish web cams
in many sites which are relevant to the exhibits and the resolution
and quality of web cam images will certainly improve during the
next two years before we open. So, for example, if visitors are
enjoying themselves building models of Isambard Brunel's bridges,
there'll be a live web cam on the Maidenhead bridge showing trains
passing over, and another on the Clifton bridge showing how the
structure out there in the real world flexes and moves as cars drive
over it. So we hope visitors will see the relevance of their models
as they make them.
Illustrates with images of Brunel's bridges. Connects to
other web cams live.
- Then, of course, as the Exploratorium site also illustrates,
the Internet is about feedback and shared experiences. There are
new kinds of environment for interaction on line. Some of them are
only used for personal chat and games just now, but they have a
lot of educational potential.
- Here's an experiment we did together with British Telecom when
I was at the BBC Multimedia Centre, entitled 'The Mirror', linked
with a TV show called 'The Net'.
Runs short tape illustrating
The only problem was that all these early adopters wanted to
talk about was bugs in Internet Explorer! In my view, web sites
and on-line links must not be about digital technologies they
must meet other needs and interests.
- On-line links, combined with the convergence of television, computers,
telephony and museums, will certainly turn traditional television
and traditional education upside down by linking the world and by
giving people real choice through interactivity.
- Here is another example of work which we developed at the BBC.
Illustrates (using a PC CD-rom) examples of interactivity
from 'The Troubles', with its associated web site.
- So how will all this affect museums or science centres? Will
there be any point in coming to our buildings? Will an on-line virtual
world do just as well? I suggest that in fact a combination of real
and virtual worlds will be extremely powerful educationally. It
is not good enough just to tack web sites onto museums or add internet
cafes to science centres. But if museums keep ahead of the frontier
and recognise what they are good at, they really will be the jam
in the sandwich: the sweet emotional experience which makes the
intellectual bread digestible! That's why we have to keep up with
the latest developments: so we can go on doing things few people
can do at home.
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