Solve-It Central Headquarters
Visitors are invited into a 12-foot-diameter octagon enclosure where
they can view a video describing problem-solving and some of the
Solve-It Central challenges. A nine-minute musical, news
broadcast, engages viewers in a mystery requiring several problem-solving
strategies. The wall panels provide space for children and parents
to add pictures and stories about their own problem-solving experiences.
In 911, visitors encounter a maze of city streets, which
they must navigate in an EMT vehicle to any of several possible
destinations (grocery store, bowling alley, etc.) Just as in real
life, the starting point for an EMT vehicle is wherever it is located
when the 911 call is made. Also as in real life, city streets may
be blocked by traffic or closed for construction. It isn't enough
to know the shortest way from one part of the city to another; an
EMT driver must also know several alternate routes.
Two hands-on puzzles allow visitors to practice their problem-solving
skills. A Walk in the Park challenges visitors to pave
a walk through a park using small, medium, or large puzzle pieces.
In My Room introduces patterns that can be created with various
colored puzzle tiles on the floor of a child's room. Extensions
of these activities introduce sorting strategies, simple addition,
symmetry, tessellation, and calculating the area of a rectangle
or the cost of paving the walk.
Two computer stations allow visitors to compose a tune or customize
rap lyrics using an original computer program developed for this
exhibition. The musical composition selection allows visitors
to explore melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic patterns, as well as
a variety of words and phrases.
Four chalkboard workstations provide a place for visitors to practice
their observation and drawing skills. Working in pairs, one person
describes an image while the other tries to draw it.
This exhibit features a tabletop pond, a movable rowboat, and
a set of "fish stories." The pond has different characteristics:
pockets of warm shallow water and deep cold water; water with
high oxygen concentration and water with less oxygen; hiding places
with lily pads and reeds; and areas where water is flowing and
other areas where the water is relatively still. The fish stories
indicate which characteristics are favored by each of three species
of fish. Visitors move the rowboat to parts of the pond where
they think they will have the best chance of catching the kind
of fish they select.
Block by Block
This working model of a stone-block Roman arch reveals an architectural
secret of many workaday buildings and great monuments: Supporting
structures are often seen only by those who do the construction.
In this exhibit, visitors are encouraged to think of extensions
of this architectural principle and explore other ways of constructing
The challenge here is to effectively manage a fire station's resources.
This requires setting priorities and keeping track of the number
of fire trucks that have been dispatched. If alarms sound for
many fires at different locations around town, the visitor must
choose how many trucks to dispatch and where to send them.
A train's mobility is limited to the track it's on, so how are
cars added and rearranged? Switch Yard helps visitors see
how this is done, and then encourages them to sort and rearrange
cars in a number of ways.
|Solve-It Central: Amazing Pipes
Photo by Scott M. Fisher
By connecting tubes and various kinds of connectors and stoppers,
visitors can take on the role of an organ maker, plumber, or pipefitter.
When the pipes are joined correctly, they will play a series of
musical notes. Along the way, visitors encounter obstacles requiring
them to find tubes that are just the right length and connectors
that are just the right shape.
Take Your Order Café
Visitors can become servers at the Take Your Order Café exhibit.
On one side of this component, people sit at a table reading menus;
on the other side, a cook stands at a grill. Visitors must find
the best strategy to take orders from each of the diners and then
get the correct order to the cook.
Packing / Unpacking
Visitors are faced with the problem of moving furniture out of
a house and into a moving van. Some pieces are easily moved through
the house while others must be turned various ways to fit through
hallways and doors. Once all the furniture is out of the house, the next step is to
get it on the van. This requires space-efficient
planning. After the van is packed, visitors are asked to
reverse the process and furnish the house.
At an audio control center, visitors must match a variety of images
in order to broadcast a desired signal.
Your Brain on Problems
In this orginal software program, visitors are presented with
a selection of common problems (e.g., memorization, remembering
a sequence of color, unscrambling words). Each problem prompts
an image that shows which parts of the brain are being used to
solve the selected challenge.
This component encourages visitors to explore the physical space
around them using various measurement devices, such as rulers,
images, and even their own hands and feet.