FIGURE 5-2 The Koshland museum focuses on using digital interactive equipment to convey science to its audience.
SOURCE: Marion Koshland Museum, 2010.
and then they administer medication to the patient over the course of 18 months, and they get to see what the viral load looks like, and they get to understand why it is that this issue is prevalent and a problem in different parts of the world.”
The last of the three exhibits is on global warming. It has been there since the museum opened and displays evidence that humans are causing recent climate change. She added, “It starts off by asking, Has the climate changed, what are its causes, how might it change in the future, what are the consequences, and how can science be used to inform our responses to climate change?”
Chemistry is offered through all core areas of the Koshland, which include museum exhibits, field trips, hands-on science in the museum, community outreach efforts, public programs, and its website. As she heard many of the speakers say, Batish added, “Chemistry is just an inherent part of every aspect of life. We don’t have to talk about chemistry from the perspective of an atom or a molecule at the museum. It becomes apparent to visitors that the basic fundamentals of what we are talking about are based on chemistry.”
For example, there is an exhibit that shows images of ice cores. It helps visitors understand how ice cores can be used to measure the temperature of the earth 500,000 to 800,000 years ago. It involves using a ratio of oxygen isotopes from air bubbles trapped in the ice cores to infer temperature. “Then, coming back to the present, we talk about changing concentration of greenhouse gases and what that means in terms of our current and future climate,” Batish added.
One of the most popular exhibits is one that focuses on decision making. The Koshland found that visitors really enjoy this exhibit because they get to consider the environmental and economic trade-offs of decisions. For example, there is one scenario in which visitors see the impact on reducing greenhouse gases when they choose between planting trees and increasing building efficiency (Figure 5-3). They get to consider the economic and environmental trade-offs of each of the options.
Based on the success of that exhibit, the museum is in the process of developing a new climate gallery. It is going to be based on two recent NRC studies—America’s Energy Future and America’s Climate Choices. The climate gallery will include topics such as climate science, climate impacts, mitigation, and adaptation to climate change. They will be much more focused on decision making and on advanced decision-making tools.
Batish noted that it is challenging to help the public understand something as vague and ambiguous as climate change through a hands-on science activity. She said that the
FIGURE 5-3 Consider the alternatives. Koshland Science Museum visitors make a choice between planting trees and increasing building efficiency to reducing greenhouse gases.
SOURCE: Marian Koshland Museum, 2010.