of an Exhibition
by Devora Liss
Published on August 16, 2013, Modified on August 16, 2013
Visit Date: April, 2013
I visited the Madatech museum with a friend whose office wants to sponsor/build renewable energy education centers. As a museum/outdoor education person, she wanted my “behind the scenes” opinion on what we’d see.
This review covers three separate exhibitions: 1) Green Energy; 2) My Green Home; 3) Noble Energy Science Park.
At first glance, this exhibition is dynamic, engaging, and colorful. Each station includes information (trilingual Heb., Ar., Eng.) and an interactive game/activity where visitors can harness/use/simulate that energy source. My favorite was the wind power station, where visitors adjusted sails and sent small boats cruising, trying to reach the other side.
This exhibition has one major set-back: It is not about green energy. Alongside stations about wind energy, solar power, and hydro-power, the exhibition also features fossil fuels and the refinement of petroleum. In fact, there is only one negative remark throughout the entire exhibition: hydro-electric power. “Placing large dam across a creek or river damages the surrounding ecological system.” Instead, this exhibit is an uncritical survey of all energy sources.
A quick glance at the sponsor wall clears everything up: alongside green energy/technology companies like Solel and Ormat, you can find Dor Alon (an Israeli gas station company that is the exclusive marketer of Texaco products here), Israeli Electric (which continues to produce energy from coal, despite the abundance of sunshine), Bazan (Israeli petro-chemical refinery), and the Ashkelon-Eilat pipe, which transfers petroleum between Red Sea and Mediterranean ports.
Israel’s elementary school curriculum includes the drawbacks of different energy sources, and addresses the pollution of the air, water, and land. Why can’t the national science museum do at least that?
My Green Home
Located in the mezzanine level above Green Energy, this exhibition focuses on smart energy use at home. This mostly bilingual exhibition (Heb., Eng) covers construction materials (bricks, glass), water use (graywater), and lifestyle choices (solar water heaters, dual flush, air drying laundry).
This exhibition is also interactive, but slightly different. A hand symbol invites visitors to touch, and they can ether feel a difference in temperature (insulating materials) or activate the display (water flows from the washer and sink into the toilet).
Although small, this exhibition covered a wide range of topics, including recycling and energy consumption of different TVs. And although not as hands-on as Green Energy, visitors could activate a wide range of processes familiar from their daily lives – surely exciting for young visitors.
Noble Energy Science Park
After a few hours inside the impressive yet stifling building, we headed outside to the museum’s courtyard. Within minutes, three mature adults turned into gleeful, curious children – exactly what a science museum is supposed to do!
This amazing outdoor park features many different type of interactive elements, games, and activities that demonstrate different principles of energy. It includes: human-sized levers, an Archimedean screw, focusing the sun to ignite enemy ships, a gravity activity, pulleys, dams and water gates, bikes that create whirl pools and so much more. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Notably, the only issue I’ll pick is the sponsor: Noble Energy, a company for natural gas, oil, deepwater drilling, shale, and more.
I must ask whether the country is providing enough funding for the sciences in general, and the national science museum in particular. The clear conflict of interest between the exhibition sponsors and the message/content was glaring. Israel takes pride in its being a start up nation; whether high-tech, agriculture, solar energy, or other fields, there are leading experts conducting innovative work – enough to make any developed country proud. But this level of science and accomplishment must be maintained, through investment in education, field trips, and doing everything and anything to pique the curiosity of the country’s young minds. The Madatech is a solid place to begin, but there needs to be clarity and consistency.