Yesterday I met up with Bridget Butler, Conservation Education Specialist at the ECHO science center in Burlington, Vermont, to discuss Vermont watershed issues. She showed me a very neat exhibit at ECHO called Voices for the Lake, which allows museum visitors (and home Internet visitors) to use technology and art to share stories about Lake Champlain and its associated waterways.
(above: Bridget Butler shows off the Voices for the Lake exhibit)
Voices for the Lake is a neat exhibit, because it combines new technology, storytelling, and a sense of place (you can see the lake while you add your story).
You can enter stories at the above console, or draw and write on a small piece of paper and attach it manually to the exhibit. Then, you can peruse other stories and pictures at two large touchscreen exhibits, pictured below (or online, here):
The screens are large, the touchscreen responsive, the exhibit is colorful and fun, and I even like the little chairs. The only (admittedly tiny) downside was that the sun was blazing in through the windows and it was a bit hard to see the screens. But, being Vermont in the winter, sun of that intensity is very rare, and I can't really complain about it (in fact, two hours later a small snowstorm was moving in)!
The ECHO center is filled with neat stuff, including aquariums showing off Lake Champlain's fish, a touch tank of tidepool life (yes, Vermont is far from the ocean but the justification for this is that Lake Champlain was previously a bay in a post-ice age inland sea), frogs, and historic lake information.
There's an exhibit where I was able to make a silly fake weather report, and ideally download it later, though I was only able to figure out how to access a picture:
There is also a really neat water exhibit for kids (including myself) to play with:
I was wishing it included some sand, but that would probably lead to a huge mess. Still, I think it would be amazing if ECHO someday had a stream table for kids to play with (maybe accompanied by a staff member/volunteer to reduce the inevitable throwing of sand or other medium all over the place). Rumor has it the State of Vermont has some 'flumes' (similar to stream tables) used for demonstration purposes, but no one has invited me to come see them yet! (hint, hint...)
In any event, if you are in Burlington, it's definitely worth checking out the ECHO Center. It's right by the waterfront so you can also take a walk along the lake if it isn't too cold (it gets VERY cold and windy there sometimes!) If not, the Voices for the Lake website is worth checking out, and there are also Twitter and Facebook pages for the exhibit.