WonderLab junco exhibit & reception

From the very beginning of our project, we had wanted to work with the local children’s science museum, WonderLab, to help bring to life juncos and scientific research to the more than 80,000 kids and parents that visit each year. Dark-eyed Juncos (the Northern race of the Slate-colored subspecies to be exact!) spend the winter in Indiana, so there was no better time to kickoff our Ordinary Extraordinary Junco exhibit than following the film’s premiere in December.  And it turns out that besides being a world-class science museum for daily visitors, WonderLab is also an awesome reception venue after hours, so it was the perfect place to gather following the film premiere.  We were also able check out the newly completed exhibit, installed by Jeremy Stone and Tony Ritchel, with the guidance of Director Karen Jepson-Innes.

Although the late hour and the weeknight date (Tuesday during finals week) kept some of our guests from heading downtown after the film premiere to hang out, we still had a great turnout that included many colleagues from IU, local birdwatchers and science teachers, a handful of college biology and ornithology students, and some friends and family.

IU Biology helped us put together a nice spread of food and drinks, and the WonderLab was open for everyone to “play” (and learn!) with all the various exhibits.  Whenever I’m at WonderLab it is obvious that many of the parents or chaperones are just as engaged and entertained as the kids.

The junco exhibit mainly presents a sampling of Ordinary Extraordinary Junco film clips on a newly upgraded HD video kiosk with a directional smartvolume speaker that is designed to adjust to background noise and target viewers immediately in front of the kiosk.  We also put together some educational posters and taxidermy junco mounts from the research collections that are on the wall surrounding the video, and two pairs of binoculars are tethered at the nearby window so visitors can look for juncos and other wild birds in WonderLab’s garden, which has some birdfeeders. The final layer of the exhibit was a “sound matching” game designed to help kids understand how birds and other animals use their songs to communicate with one another for mating or territorial interactions.

A great time was had by all, and it was a treat to be able to hang out with so many encouraging and inspiring people who share our enthusiasm for science, education, birds, and film!  Thanks to IU Biology and the WonderLab for hosting us!