Schenectady’s Museum of Science and Innovation invites visitors to step through a tunnel of clouds, snow and rain to discover more about Earth’s changing climate.
“Weather to Climate: Our Changing World” uses interactive puzzles, digital games and more to explore weather events and how climate change is impacting animals and people all over the globe.
“Weather’s always been a popular topic for us and, of course, climate change is a big issue for the world. What this exhibit helps to do is [talk] about the difference between weather and climate. Weather is what’s happening out there in the short term and climate is the role of longer-term impact. Just because it’s cold outside today doesn’t mean there’s no climate change,” said Chris Hunter, the vice president of collections and exhibitions at miSci.
Walking into the exhibition, visitors are greeted by digital games that break down the atmospheric conditions that lead to weather events, like a snowstorm or a hurricane.
Nearby, people can puzzle together which climate types can be found in each region of the Earth. They can also step into the role of weather forecaster, using a green screen, microphone and a few professional costumes.
After visitors learn about various weather conditions, the exhibition looks at how animals and landscapes will be impacted by climate change.
Flying and red squirrels, for example, are experiencing population loss because of deforestation and climate change, but the common gray squirrels are proving to be more adaptable.
Based on the “STEAM” education philosophy, the exhibition also includes artwork from illustrators, photographers and others. It features a stirring series called “Polar Migration” by Diana Sudyka, a Chicago-based illustrator, that delves into how climate change is impacting polar bears and penguins in Antarctica.
It’s a timely series, since the continent hit a record-breaking 65 degrees this week, the same temperature that San Diego was enjoying.
Next to Sudyka’s series is an animal-climate “Wheel of Fortune.” Visitors can spin one wheel with a variety of climates and another with a variety of animals. A screen at the center tells the spinner how well the animal would do in the climate.
In another interactive, visitors can digitally create a creature, deciding whether or not it should have wings, fur, etc.
The final portion of the exhibition explores the impact that humans have on climate and how we can take steps to lessen that impact. As with most of the exhibition, there’s a digital interactive activity that takes visitors through a typical day and tests them to see if they can have the least impact on the climate — taking the bus or walking rather than driving a car to work, shopping locally instead of buying online.
It leads people into “Wind + Solar: The Renewable Energy Revolution,” a nearby exhibition that explores how engineers are trying to harness renewable resources. “Weather to Climate” also blends well with miSci’s annual “Butterflies + Blooms” exhibition, which will open this weekend.
While there’s a variety of interactive elements and screens that are guaranteed to interest young students, Hunter said “Weather to Climate” offers something for every age group.
“There’s things that little kids can do and be interested in and there’s lots of information for adults,” Hunter said.
The exhibition will be open through Sunday, May 3. For more information visit misci.org.