Both faces are stationary. The viewer knows that.
Yet one of the faces appears to move as the viewer moves.
It’s an optical illusion — the first face is three dimensional, as is the second one, but it’s a negative image, three-dimensional in reverse.
“The brain interprets what it sees, the cues are not what they normally are and your brain fills in,” John Schneiter, a museum trustee and CEO of a company called Free Form Fibers, said Friday at a preview of miSci’s new “Seeing” exhibition. “That’s pretty cool, I think.”
It’s not necessarily the faces, though, that Schneiter is talking about. It’s the children who will view that and other exhibits that challenge the viewer’s perception of what they see — and what they want to be when they grow up.
“That’s kind of the point,” Schneiter said, “getting them to remember something, some interesting things. And then, as they’re growing up, as they’re in class, they end up remembering something.”
And that “something” is the spark that leads them to a career in science, Schneiter said.
The new exhibition opens today at the Museum of Innovation and Science, or miSci.
The exhibition is to run through June and is the first part of a five-year collaboration between miSci and San Francisco’s Exploratorium. It is also the first new exhibition since the Schenectady Museum changed its name to miSci in August.
Today’s opening includes planetarium shows, electricity demos and a special pinhole magnifier hands-on activity. Saturdays in October are also GE Kids in Free Days at the museum. Children ages 12 and younger receive free admission when accompanied by a paying adult, courtesy of GE.
“Seeing” is presented through sponsors Neil and Jane Golub and National Grid.
Contrary to the exhibit’s name, Teri Bordenave, interim executive director of miSci, said they don’t want children to just see. They want children to become engaged in the exhibits.
“We want the kids to get excited and to stay excited about science, math and technology,” Bordenave said.
Bordenave recalled a dry run earlier in the week with a group of girls from Girls Inc. Each of the girls did just that, Bordenave said.
In all, there are 30 new interactive exhibits to challenge the perceptions of both children and adults.
While the exhibits are from the San Francisco museum, miSci is also incorporating its own related exhibits of local historical artifacts. Those artifacts all relate to the theme of sight. Among those are General Electric light bulbs and an old WRGB camera, one of the oldest television cameras.
Also at the sneak peak Friday was Neil Golub and National Grid Chief Operating Officer Ellen Smith. Smith said science education is obviously important for National Grid in that science is the basis for its linemen and engineers.
“Anything we can do on that front, and build those skills in the community, is really critical,” she said.
Golub worked his way through several of the exhibits himself. The museum turned to Golub, executive chairman of the Golub Corp. board, earlier this year, and Golub responded by raising enough money to fund the museum’s Challenger space simulator and personally put up funds for the new series of hands-on exhibits.
Of the new exhibits, Golub explained how they show changes in lighting or the environment can result in what a person seeing and what actually happens being totally different.
“That’s going to give people the opportunity to learn about a whole bunch of new ideas,” Golub said. “And I think that’s pretty neat. That’s what it’s all about — keeping people entertained with new ideas.”