A series of exhibits designed, tested and produced by high school seniors now on display in Simms/Mann Family Foundation Bridge gallery at MOXI.
MOXI, THE WOLF MUSEUM OF EXPLORATION + INNOVATION DEBUTS PARTNERSHIP WITH DOS PUEBLOS ENGINEERING ACADEMY WITH SPECIAL SHOWCASE AT MUSEUM
A series of exhibits designed, tested and produced by high school seniors now on display in Simms/Mann Family Foundation Bridge gallery at MOXI
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (January 25, 2019) – The finished maple butcher block, the brushed aluminum frames, and the finely tuned mechanisms of some of the newest exhibits installed in the second floor Simms/Mann Family Foundation Bridge gallery space at MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, fit right in with the rest of the museum’s trademark custom exhibit experiences. A key point of difference between these exhibits and the rest of them? These newest exhibits were entirely designed and produced by high school seniors from the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy (DPEA).
The DPEA Showcase, open now through April 14 at MOXI, is the result of an innovative and creative partnership between DPEA and MOXI. Over the course of the last 18 months, the two like-minded organizations have worked together to formalize a vision to offer students in the DPEA the opportunity to design, manufacture, produce and install interactive exhibits at MOXI.
MOXI’s director of exhibits, Sean O’Brien, and DPEA’s founder and executive director, Amir Abo-Shaeer have spent significant time collaborating to make this experience as meaningful as possible for DPEA students and MOXI guests alike. O’Brien has invested time with the students in their workshop space at the DPEA campus as well as on the museum floor, helping them to understand the opportunities, challenges and constraints associated with designing and producing exhibits for interactive science museums.
“What I find inspiring and remarkable about working with the DPEA students is the limitlessness of their imagination coupled with their ability and dedication to their work. I have been continually impressed at the caliber of their work and the professionalism they bring to the table at such a young age. As a longtime educator, providing this invaluable real-world experience to high school students in our community is extremely gratifying,” said O’Brien.
Part of the DPEA approach to learning is providing students with opportunities for real-world, interdisciplinary, project-based experiences. Their senior year is primarily spent studying applied mechatronics and participating in a capstone project structured like an internship at an engineering company which designs and produces installations and exhibits for museums like MOXI. Students touch all aspects of the business, from research and development to manufacturing and assembly, as well as testing and actuation. As a product of the partnership with MOXI, students now receive additional feedback and input from personnel and guests at a museum located right in their own backyard.
“We place a high priority on real-world experiences in our approach to learning, and in the world of exhibit design, there’s nothing more real world than thousands of visitors engaging with your design, pushing it to its limits. We’re grateful to MOXI for the opportunity this partnership provides our students,” said Abo-Shaeer.
The DPEA Showcase installation brings together a series of exhibits made entirely by senior students from both the class of 2018 and 2019. As an example of the exhibit development process, one of the exhibits, the Sand Table, was displayed at MOXI last spring. During a six-week period, students had the opportunity to refine and adapt the experience based on their own observations, feedback from MOXI staff and guests, as well as technical reports produced by the exhibits themselves. The team would remove the exhibit from the museum floor, make iterations to the hardware or software, and test out improvements, sometimes in the span of one day.
“DPEA is such a trailblazer in their approach to STEAM education, so this partnership is a natural fit. I hope it can serve as a model to our museum peers across the country that teens can pull off some pretty amazing things if you give them the tools, the space and the freedom to try. They bring a unique point of view and fearlessness that we sometimes stifle as we get older or more entrenched in our careers,” said Robin Gose, president and CEO of MOXI. “This partnership is such a meaningful way for MOXI to collaborate with local students to leverage the homegrown talent and innovation in our own community.”
The Showcase also features three exhibits that are making their debut at MOXI for this limited-time installation. One exhibit explores the principles of aerodynamics and air currents through use of a Bernoulli Blower designed to engage guests in an arcade-game like challenge to move a hovering ball through an obstacle course of sorts. While this exhibit has undergone extensive testing in a controlled workshop setting, the Showcase will mark the first time the general public gets to play with it. While this may mean it could break down, parts could go missing or guests could engage with it in unintended ways, all of this adds up to learning, which is what the partnership is all about. Students will receive regular feedback from MOXI’s exhibits team and tend to issues as needed during the course of the exhibition.
To MOXI, and the DPEA, this is part of the beauty of their partnership. “In my world, as an exhibits director, I set a high bar of 100% of our exhibits to be 100% functioning on a daily basis, but embracing failure is a crucial part of the design thinking and engineering process because that is where we learn. If one of these exhibits experiences issues during the Showcase, all the better to push students to iterate and improve. Giving DPEA’s students the platform on which to succeed, and possibly fail, is all part of an invaluable learning experience we hope they value and appreciate,” said O’Brien.
The DPEA Showcase is now open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sunday, April 14 and is included with general admission to MOXI. It is generously funded in part by a gift from Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin.
MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation® is dedicated to igniting learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity. Located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s redeveloped tourist area at 125 State Street, the museum is LEED-certified Gold and serves guests of all ages through its hands-on exhibits and education programs. MOXI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization generously supported by its daily guests, members, facility rentals and donations from individuals, foundations and corporate partners. For more information, visit moxi.org.
The Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy (DPEA) is a four-year Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) program based at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California. An interdisciplinary, project-based approach to learning is used to teach students design and problem-solving skills in engineering, product development and manufacturing. For more information, visit dpengineering.org.