Science for the Win

Fort Worth museum nabs new high-tech exhibit with help from Facebook

Fort Worth museum nabs new high-tech exhibit with help from Facebook

Science on a Sphere - Current Science Studio
The Current Science Studio, featuring Science On a Sphere, will open at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in spring 2021. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will open a new high-tech exhibit in spring 2021, linking science with current events like the upcoming Mars rover landing, tracking hurricanes, or marking COVID-19 cases worldwide.

According to a December 2 release, the Current Science Studio will include an array of low-touch interactive activities and cutting-edge media, including a dozen holograms and a giant orb floating from the ceiling that can display content from NASA and NOAA. Facebook sponsored the new 2,500-square-foot studio with a $255,000 grant.

“It’s important we partner with organizations with a forward-thinking view on the use of technology,” says Doug Roberts, an astrophysicist and the museum's chief public engagement officer, in the release. “This makes science relevant and accessible whether you are looking at big data or a physical object. And it aligns with what Facebook is doing to connect people around the world.”

Anchoring the new exhibit space will be Science On a Sphere, a giant global display system suspended from the ceiling developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Science On a Sphere presents images of Earth’s atmospheric storms, climate change, ocean temperatures, and outer space phenomena in a way that is both intuitive and captivating. The large, interactive sphere will be among the highest-resolution anywhere in the world. 

“Our goal is to connect guests to relevant discoveries and news happening right now,” says Morgan Rehnberg, a planetary scientist and the museum's chief scientist. “We could conceptualize an exhibit on the science of vaccinations, for instance, and how the new COVID-19 vaccine compares to other vaccines throughout history. Or we could track a hurricane or wildfires on Earth or space events like the rover landing on Mars next year.”

The exhibit will react quickly to news events and change with the flip of a switch. All studio elements, including a dozen holograms, will be connected to one theme for either self-exploration or a tour with a museum guide.

The exhibit will also show history, acting like a time machine, they say. The museum will display some artifacts as holographic images, enabling visitors to superimpose holographic projection onto physical objects, enabling guests to make a deeper connection.