Science Center of Iowa Taking a Break to Repair and Rethink Exhibits With Visitors in Mind

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DES MOINES, Iowa –  The Science Center of Iowa is taking a fall break during weekdays for the next two weeks, but there will still be plenty of work happening behind closed doors.

The Science Center of Iowa creates its exhibits based on how much interaction visitors can participate in.

The museum calls it ‘engineering for visitors.’ Director of Exhibits Allison Schwanbeck said the idea is to make sure items in an exhibit are safe and stable to touch and learn from.

“We know that the more scenarios that people can engage, the better the learning. If somebody can touch something, rather than just reading about it that’s better. If we can provide sound, smell all of those different elements actually make for a much higher learning experience. But also, we have to approach things very differently,” Schwanbeck said.

The museum uses an educational lens to see what people can learn from a new exhibit and how to find fun activities, making it interactive. Pre-school students test of prototype exhibits, before debuting to the public.

Schwanbeck said things are prone to break, and the museum expects it. The ‘Egg Drop’, one of the most popular exhibits, is currently out of operation due to malfunction.

“It’s not only a software issue, but it also a hardware issue. Not only with computers, but it also has gears, motors and a variety of different things we have to figure out where things are exactly going wrong. Currently, what has happened is we fix one thing and then something else happens so we just keep trying and trying again to get it up and running,” Shwanbeck said.

Shwanbeck said recently the Saint Louis Arch in “Brick By Brick” was partially damaged. It has been repaired, and an extra layer of the barrier has been added.

The Science Center is closed to visitors on weekdays this week and next for cleaning and training. During that time employees go through every exhibit making sure everything still works.  SCI will still be open for its normal weekend hours.



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