IEEE has launched an interactive science exhibit at the Espacio Ciencia museum in Montevideo, Uruguay. The E-Scientia exhibit is aimed at raising awareness among high school students about careers in electrical engineering, computer science, and technology by demonstrating how electronic devices are designed and applied. The museum, a self-styled interactive center of science and technology, is part of the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay, which works to sustain the country’s economic development through innovation.
Launched in July, the E-Scientia exhibit was developed by volunteers from the IEEE Educational Activities Board. The exhibit, meant to be visited by groups of high school students, is a 3-meter-high, 6-meter-long replica of the Apollo 11 Eagle spacecraft. Inside are five interactive stations that deal with different aspects of electrotechnology: communications, energy, propulsion, defense, and biomedicine. In addition to museum staff, volunteers from local IEEE student branches are on hand to help explain the technical concepts.
A video about the Apollo 11 mission and clips from science fiction movies about space travel serve to introduce students to the space program. Then the IEEE volunteers teach them about electricity, electrons, conductors, insulators, magnets, motors, and other basics. Students get to learn about electricity pioneers, including Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla, and Guglielmo Marconi. Then it’s time for hands-on activities.
Applying what they’ve learned, pairs of students are assigned stations, where they build a circuit board using an electronics kit that corresponds to one of the five subject areas. They’re asked to build an FM receiver in the communications station, for example. In the defense station they try to build a laser gun, and in the energy station the goal is to create a circuit powered by a solar cell. Each station has a computer that presents instructions for building the circuits. The two-person team that builds a circuit board in the least amount of time gets an IEEE memento.
A question-and-answer session follows, and the students and their mentors discuss the functions of their circuit. A video about IEEE closes the exhibit. Participants leave with Junior Engineer diplomas and a password to access the E-Scientia Web site, where they can fabricate circuit boards online using virtual components.
More than 100 policy makers, government representatives, leaders of major technology companies, and engineering and science educators were on hand for the exhibit’s opening. Speakers included 2010 IEEE president-elect Moshe Kam, IEEE Uruguay Section Chair Miguel L. Aumento, and the president of the Uruguay Senate, Lucía Topolansky.
IEEE funded E-Scientia with support from IBM; Interamericana de Computos, an IT infrastructure company; Analisis de Sistemas, a provider of multimedia hardware and turnkey systems; and Markel Engineers, a consultant for industrial processes and the supply chain.