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Description Itinerary Walkthrough

Solve-It Central: 911
Solve-It Central: 911
Photo by Scott M. Fisher
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.

Patterns Seen
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.

Patterns Heard
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.

Chalk Talk
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.

Gone Fishing
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 an arch.

Five Alarmer
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.

Switch Yard
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
Solve-It Central: Amazing Pipes
Photo by Scott M. Fisher

Amazing Pipes
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.

Audio Tech
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.

Measurement Mat
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.

Description Itinerary Walkthrough
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