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Review

of an Exhibit

by Jessimi Jones

Published on December 31, 2010

  • Description:

    I made my visit to COSI with a high school intern that works at my museum. She had a homework assignment to complete for a Physics class and was interested in using some of the science exhibitions to explore Physics concepts in action, and I had been interested in experiencing the new Life exhibition. We arrived at COSI, the once local Columbus high school, now converted into a museum of science and industry. Upon entering the building we picked up our passes and found a locker in which to store our coats and bags and made our way out to the museum floor.

    First, we casually explored some of the spaces to see which exhibits would best demonstrate concepts of motion, fore, and gravity. In an outside exhibition we found a giant lever. On one side was a car. On the other were two large ropes, one halfway out the arm and the other near the end of the arm of the lever. Visitors could experiment with how levers work by pulling on the ropes and trying to pick up the car. In another space we learned about work and force through pulleys. There were three chairs for you to sit in and try to pull yourself up into the air with pulleys. At each chair was a different pulley system. We learned that the more pulleys used in the system the easier it is to pull yourself into the air therefore taking less work to accomplish the task. The chair with one pulley was more challenging then the chair with two pulleys. The chair with three pulleys proved to be the easiest chair to lift a person into the air.

    After spending time experimenting with the Physics concepts we went to find the Life exhibition. COSI’s new Life Exhibition explores the story of life through three different lenses of the body, mind, and spirit. Conditions of our physical makeup, investigations of how our brain works, and stories of the nonphysical realm of our being are all explored.

    Of the three sections of Mind, Body, and Spirit I found Body the most successful. The three sections are near each other without clear delineation aside from a header on the label of each activity. I did like the organic fluidity of the exhibition and that it reflects the idea that life is made up of various but equally important aspects of the human condition. However, I felt that each of the sections accomplished their goals in various levels of success. In Spirit was a station titled Death Stories that held a video touch screen with four videos. Each of the videos shows a person and how they are coping with their own mortality. One was an elderly woman; another was a young boy with a deadly form of cancer. I watched only portions of a few of the videos. For such a personal and tough topic I found the sound nearly impossible to hear leaving these stories unfortunately unattainable. In Mind some of the stations explored concepts such as an echo-free room, optical illusions, dreams, and remembering. There was a fair but not too overdone amount of text at these stations explaining concepts, tied with activities to challenge your mind. While I found many of these stations fun as an individual activity I felt that there was an overall disconnect with how these fit into larger concepts of life and how they affect our daily livelihood.

    The Body section I feel was by far the most successful. At these stations you can test your flexibility, strength, heart rate and nutritional choices and then compare yourself to other visitors’ results. Also, there are stations that show the developmental phases of a fetus, how laser eye surgery takes place, cancer rates and x-rays. The concepts were clear, the activities engaging, and the personal relevance readily apparent.

    One of the most exciting aspects of the exhibition is the Labs in Life section. Labs in Life is a state-of-the-art laboratory where studies of physical activity and nutrition and are being conducted. Researchers from The Ohio State University are working in partnership with COSI us the labs to conduct research. Future research projects are posted in the space and you can pick up information about becoming a participant. One posted study is Are Wii Really Fit?, which aims to test the possibility and effectiveness of utilizing gaming as a form of exercise and called for males and females ages 10-49 years old to be part of the study. Since the labs have glass walls you can see the research being conducted, and as a visitor you have the opportunity participate in the studies yourself.

    Upon reflecting, I have found myself thinking back to and referencing things that I explored in the exhibition. And while I felt more could have been done in the Mindy and Sprit sections I thoroughly enjoyed Body and was impressed with how people were engaging with the activities. I am also excited to see what comes from Labs in Life. The possibilities for how Labs in Life can respond to the needs of the community are exciting. This in particular I feel is showing visitors different examples of what a museum can be.

Latest Comments (2)

types of themes

by Kathleen Mclean - January 02, 2011

Jessimi, do you think the character of each of the themes of Mind, Body, Spirit had something to do with your sense of engagement? The themes of Mind and Spirit are very abstract, and could be interpreted in a number of ways, while the most concrete and physical (literally) theme of Body is the most clear and straightforward. Could that have had an influence on your experience?

Re: types of themes

by Jessimi Jones - January 05, 2011

Kathleen- I do agree that the abstract quality of Mind and Spirit affected my experience. Also, I really do appreciate that these themes are leave room for multiple interpretations and the somewhat more esoteric aspects of life. However, I can’t help but wish that the topics presented under Mind and Body had delved a little deeper. Some of the topics seemed to dangle, and a few that explored some of the headier topics seemed to skirt the issue or lack entry points for the visitor to respond.

Again, I really enjoyed the body section. Here I think they made even some of the more puzzling aspects of our physical selves accessible.

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