Date: March 9, 2018 – Summer 2018
Partner: Ontario Science Centre
Venue: Hot Zone on Level 6 at the Ontario Science Centre – map
Project Members: Jessica Baptista, Shannon Crewson, Napat Malathum, & Christopher Shackleton
Our project, [ROBOTICS], involved the production, writing, and teaching of a live, interactive demonstration at the Ontario Science Centre (OSC). We developed a set of content and physical materials that we then trained the OSC’s Hosts to implement on a daily basis in the Hot Zone.
We originally proposed our topic in October 2017, but due to institution-wide programming taking place for March Break at the OSC, we changed our topic to Robotics in January of 2018.
Our topic and program were primarily structured based on consultations we had with the N-CART Lab at Ryerson University, led by Dr. Alex Ferworn. The lab works on solutions for computational public safety, or computer-based technologies for improving the outcomes of scenarios such as disaster management and search and rescue. We then initiated contact with many researchers, organizations, and corporations across the globe in order to acquire visual and physical materials. Our process of sourcing materials was very long, as we were communicating with many other busy professionals working in the field of robotics.
With the assistance of the team at the OSC, we turned our content into a cohesive set of presentation materials and physical interactives. We decided to produce a ‘pick-and-choose’ set of examples and interactives that would allow Hosts to make each presentation unique, so they could choose which of our prepared stories to present and in which order. It was our hope that this increased modularity would help the [ROBOTICS] demonstration remain engaging for the OSC’s visitors and the Hosts themselves.
One of our favourite aspects of our presentation was what we’ve termed The Bead Activity, which simulates an iterative trial-and-error method of technological development. By testing our activity with our colleagues in the Exhibitions class, we were able to refine our approach to introducing the activity to both visitors and the Hosts we were training.
Training the Hosts directly gave us the opportunity to develop our leadership and problem-solving skills. We were lucky enough to be lent an archaeologist robot nicknamed ‘Indy’ by the team at the NCART lab, and had to carefully train the Hosts on its safe operation in the museum environment. We developed numerous training documents to aid in the long-term usability of Indy as a part of the demonstrations.
The Hosts we trained provided amazing amounts of valuable feedback which helped us learn how to be better instructors and content developers. We learned about writing for a younger general museum audience and the importance of the craft of interpretation in exhibit development. All of us improved our professional communication skills, and definitely learned lots about robotics!