BioDesign Studio is and exhibition at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, USA. The studio enables all visitors to play with biology in an innovative way. The exhibition builds on the open world exploration principle. It provides a hands-on experience to guests that learn about synthetic biology through play. The visitors get so excited and inspired that they learn without even realising it.
The BioDesign Studio is also a great example of how to combine physical and virtual elements to offer an engaging and fun experience to visitors. For example, guests can see how a naturally growing mycelium — the root-like fibers of a mushroom — can be used as an environmentally friendly building material. In order to start building their structures visitors have to start growing bricks in molds designed in fun shapes. Mycelium takes about a week to grow, so visitors get to use bricks built by others. At the Creature Creation Station visitors are helped to create biological instructions for growing a living thing. After the creation, the result – a thing that looks like something you would see swimming under a microscope – is released in a simulated environment that can be seen on a arc-shaped screen display. One of the most exciting things here is also to see how the creatures might interact live on the screen with your friend designs.
The goal of the exhibit is to get children inspired and excited about synthetic biology. I believe that a combined physical and digital hands-on experience that enables children to explore biology in a fun way is a great way to achieve that goal.