Bill Nye “The Science Guy” is one of the most recognizable faces in science. Leveraging the power of his profile and status, Proximity Lab was selected by the Chabot Space & Science Center to lead the research, design and implementation of an ambitious project to educate kids and families about climate science and the power of individual choice. The result is Bill Nye’s Climate Lab – an integrated web, mobile and museum-based experience.
The learning experience had to be fun and engaging for kids aged 4 to 14 and a key business driver for the organization was to increase repeat visitation to the museum.
The team researched and explored a broad set of ideas to engage kids before, during and after their visit to the museum and we met with kids about the kinds of activities and digital experiences that got them excited. We sketched early ideas for the exhibit and shared them with a wide range of kids at the museum to validate initial concepts. Working collaboratively with Bill and his team, the vision for the exhibits started to take shape.
We designed and developed a web-based experience that featured climate science based content and incorporated that into interactive learning-based games and easily consumed videos and activities. And the framework for a multi-platform experience was established. Kids could create accounts, select avatars and play games that earned them points as they moved through each of the climate-based activities. This point-based system allowed users to earn power-ups and upgrades and provided a friendly competitive dimension to the social interactions in the museum, at home and at school.
To help kids understand how their daily choices affect and influence climate change, we designed and developed several exhibits including "Bike with Bill" which featured a stationary bike hooked up to sensors that allowed kids to virtually ride through the streets of San Francisco while learning about ways to minimize their carbon footprint. The exhibit gallery features an interactive video wall dynamically populated with the avatars of every active visitor in the museum. Kids simply scan their badge and their avatar appears and lights up.
Following the success of the first phase of the museum exhibit and companion website, the Proximity Lab team was asked to extend the experience and explore new entry points for potential visitors. A number of concepts were developed and tested with museum visitors. The result was “Lab Dash” – a touch-based mobile game that was fully integrated with the exhibit and web experiences including visitor accounts, avatars and accumulated point totals. Kids play the game to collect points with bonuses and levels that can be unlocked only by returning to the museum, incentives that helped drive repeat visits and longer-term engagement.
All of our concepts were tested and validated with kids in the gallery space. We even tested the incentive models - cashing in points for power ups, versus customizing your avatar, unlocking levels. We are proud of this project and how well it was received. The year the exhibit opened it received a "Best of Show" award from MITX for Excellence in Interactive Innovation.