We are currently busy working with The National Railway Museum in York to develop 12 interactive exhibits for Wonderlab: The Bramall Gallery. This ground-breaking interactive gallery will explore the how, what and why that underpins the creation of our railways. Throughout the space, families will explore interactive exhibits together and challenge themselves to think like engineers – so OUR challenge is to create interactives that achieve this.
So how do we do that?…prototype, prototype, prototype! Each one of the exhibits is completely bespoke and unique to Wonderlab: The Bramall Gallery, which means we need to test out our ideas to see if they work; and most importantly, whether or not the visitors will like them! Each one comes with its own set of design fundamentals and problems to solve, and our team is rising to the challenge.
Two of our favourite exhibits for this project are a hydrogen rocket and a Heath Robinson inspired marble run.
The hydrogen rocket presented us with a few technical challenges to overcome. By developing a prototype using clear perspex tube, a kitchen funnel, and some bbq electrodes (as well as some nifty engineering and electronics to control it all), we were able to safely generate sufficient hydrogen gas and ignite it in a controlled way to launch the rocket six meters into the air. To deliver a great visitor experience, it’s also really important that we create the quietest explosion possible! Our second prototype has just been tested by the audience research and advocacy team at the museum using volunteer visitors and we’re pleased to say it passed with flying colours!
The marble run will invite visitors use wooden blocks to build towers which they link together using bridges to create a gravity-powered railway. The challenge is to see how long the run created can be and how many twists and turns can be incorporated along the way. The intial feedback was that visitors loved the first two prototypes, but they wanted to see a wider variety of bridges and a way to make the blocks click together to help keep everything neat and tidy so the ball doesn’t get stuck on its journey. Our third prototype is being tested by the NRM team at the moment and we’ll know the results in a couple of weeks. We’ve provided straight bridges, hump-backed ones, and even ones that go round corners. Plus, every single piece now has magnets incorporated into it so building your best marble run is a snap!