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The Dominion Solar Energy Exhibit at the Childrens Museum of Richmond will be the first exhibit families encounter as soon as they cross the bridge to enter the main exhibit floor. Children and their caregivers will be drawn to a compelling interactive sensory airways exhibit, powered by solar panels on sky cubes above. A large mural of a stylized sun on the wall behind the exhibit will emphasize the suns role in making the energy to power the exhibit.
Children and adults will insert brightly colored scarves into the action-filled exhibit that are immediately drawn in and travel quickly in random paths through the clear tube maze. As visitors watch through the tubes to follow the path of their scarves, their eyes are drawn to the sky cube above to see the scarves exit the exhibit and float down to the floor. When they look up, they see one of the three sky cubes that support the photovoltaic panels that power the exhibit, as well as provide additional power for the museum.
Beside the airways exhibit, a flat panel television will interpret the museums solar energy array on three of the museums five sky cubes for school age children and adults. The video will describe the process of harvesting the suns energy through photovoltaic panels, the conversion of that energy to electricity and how that power is making air move throughout the exhibit to propel the scarves to the exit above. In addition, visitors will be able to follow the Kilowatt per hour trend to see how it fluctuates due to cloud coverage and the angle of the sun. Running on a continuous loop, the video can be quickly updated as necessary and allow video presenters and their messages to be seen by more than 230,000 visitors per year.
By powering what promises to be one of the Childrens Museums most interactive and popular exhibits, even very young children will have a special connection to solar energy that they would not otherwise experience. In addition, the video interpretation provides more detail for adults and school age children, introducing the benefits of solar energy and bringing the concept out of the abstract and making it a real part of a fun and memorable experience.