Students engineer new exhibits for local science museum

November 27, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania has announced an exciting opportunity for children and families to test new exhibits built by Penn State engineering students.

The event, free and open to the public, will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, at the museum at 112 W. Foster Ave., Suite 1, in State College.

Michele Crowl, director of education at Discovery Space, said the partnership between the museum and the M E 340 students, which began in 2012, is a win-win scenario because students gain valuable hands-on engineering experience while working with a real customer, and the museum acquires brand new exhibits at minimal cost.

Students spent the fall semester collaborating with Discovery Space staff to assess the museum’s needs and evaluate current exhibits, and used their engineering skills to design and build seven new exhibits.

Jason Moore, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State, has been teaching the course and working with Discovery Space since 2013. He said students find working on the exhibits both challenging and rewarding.

“They realize that children may or may not understand the intended educational objective of their exhibits. In addition, they have to determine how to make safety a top priority,” explained Moore. “But the students also feel a sense of pride, knowing their products will be used by hundreds of Discovery Space visitors, for years to come.”

Crowl noted that Discovery Space’s exhibit team is comprised entirely of volunteers, so she appreciates that the engineering students are able to keep the museum’s offerings new and fresh.

“Some families visit every week of the year, so for them, new exhibits help us continually spark their curiosity,” she said.

New exhibits that will be available for testing on Dec. 1 include a magnetic drawing board, an earthquake table, a magnetic ball drop and a corkscrew ball lift.

“We are excited for the community to come together and see the results of Penn State’s partnership with a wonderful local nonprofit,” said Moore. “It’s going to be a fun time.”

Founded in 2011, Discovery Space offers interactive exhibits and hands-on programs designed to provide valuable informal science education, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), in a fun learning environment.

  • Engineering students at Discovery Space

    Penn State M E 340 students set up their exhibits at Discovery Space in State College on April 25, 2012.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 28, 2016