A museum worth exploring

WEB WATCH

The Tech Museum of Innovation, or simply The Tech, is a museum located in the Silicon Valley, in San Jose, USA. It is a great centre of learning to inspire students and teachers with hands-on exhibits and lab experiences with applications of technology from industry and everyday life.

The Tech also encourages local families, individuals, and visitors staying in the area, and from around the world, to discover new insights into technology and the process of innovation through hands-on exploratory activities.

The Tech does this through content and programmes featuring "The Spirit of Silicon Valley" inspiring people, inventions and mind-set that continues to make this region the leading source of science and technology innovation. If you cannot visit The Tech museum at San Jose physically, then you could explore its exhibits online at www.thetech.org/exhibits/online/.

The current online exhibits are:

*MPG Marathon
*The Spirit of American Innovation
*The Satellite Site

At MPG Marathon, you can comprehend how your design choices and driving strategy affect the performance and energy-efficiency of a hybrid car. Here you design your car by choosing the body style, size of gas engine and electric motor, and the tyres. Then, race it against two opponents in real-time. Check out how far would your model would go on a cup of gas!

The Spirit of American Innovation offers detailed accounts on the agonies and ecstasies of award winning innovators. You can learn about what the  medal winners went through, in-depth biographies, personal stories, and firsthand accounts of the sometimes difficult path to innovation. The Satellite Site online exhibit informs what satellites do, how they work, and the different types of orbits they can have. Here you can build your own satellite with your friends and family, online!

Some of the earlier exhibits which proved very popular have been archived. Among them are:

*DNA: The Instruction Manual for Life
*Earthquakes
*Eye On The Universe: The Hubble Space Telescope
*Lasers: From Science Fiction to Everyday Life
*Make a Splash With Color
*Tech Topics
*The Revolutionaries
*The Robot Zoo

Let’s take a look at a couple of these archived exhibits. DNA: Life's Instruction Manual can help to  explore the DNA by zooming into it. We can zoom in on a human hand until we get down inside of the nucleus which contains DNA, the instruction manual for our body.

The Robot Zoo exhibit reveals the biomechanics of giant robot animals to illustrate how real animals work. Nature's engineering and human technology converge in this exciting exhibit, which features giant robot animals and more than a dozen hands-on activities! Among the animals you can make pets include chameleon, squid, bat, fly, platypus, grasshopper and the rhino.

The Tech Topics section has answers for all these questions - What causes earthquakes? Why does my heart beat? What is an electron? Tech Topics, started with a bunch of cool exhibits, now not only provides links to other places, but also hosts activities and projects to help explain things.

Silicon Valley's place as a hotbed of innovation is well known, but how did its pioneers take it there? The Revolutionaries exhibit captures how the Silicon Valley pioneers turned their inspiration into innovation. This section reveals the innovators' early interests in science, and also their guidance for young people excited by technology today, and their thoughts on the future.

The Tech Virtual at http://thetechvirtual.org/ was launched in December 2007. The seven exhibits, all contributed under a Creative Commons license and prototyped in the virtual world of Second Life, became part of the museum's art, film, music and games exhibition. To keep exhibit designs relevant and exciting, museums need to share ideas and invite new insights. 

The Tech Virtual is a one-of-a-kind online community where exhibit designers can share best practices, build prototypes, and even create detailed 3D models.  The Virtual Test Zone gallery aims to regularly feature virtual-to-real-world exhibits on specific themes resulting from The Tech Virtual programmes.

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