Tonawanda News

July 9, 2012

Buffalo Museum of Science undergoing a transformation

By Danielle Haynes, danielle.haynes@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

BUFFALO — Things are buzzing these days at the Buffalo Museum of Science, and no, there are no bees involved with the changes taking place over the next three years. Well, at least not yet. ...

"I'm just so excited to be here during this huge time for the museum," said Marketing Manager Amy Biber.

The museum is currently in the process of significantly overhauling eight of its galleries — one of which re-opened in March — with the intent of rejuvenating its collection with interactive studios focused on different areas of science. 

The Explore YOU gallery, sponsored in part by Independent Health and the John R. Oishei Foundation, opened this spring and teaches visitors about the health sciences. The remaining seven galleries will be opened in 6-month intervals over the next few years and, in no particular order, will focus on earth systems, motion, biodiversity, culture, extinction, space and insects. Ok, so maybe there will be bees.

"Our intentions are to open a new studio every 6 months pending funding," Biber said. "This is really the rebirth of the museum experience at the Buffalo Museum of Science ... this entire museum wil be very interactive by October 2015."

The studios take a more interactive approach to displaying information, which Biber said the museum acknowledge is the way today's children learn.

"It really engages students and children into wanting to learn," she said. "Sometimes they don't even know they're learning because they're having so much fun doing it."

The Explore YOU gallery, which formerly housed the museum's dinosaur collection, features a quality of health calculator; a touch-screen body systems viewer variously showing the respiratory, muscular and other systems; a heart rate monitor; and a laparoscopic surgery training machine.

The heart rate monitor features a sensor guests can place their hands upon at which time their heart rate thunders throughout the room. A nearby game — a la Whack a Mole — has guests running back and forth touching sensors as they light up. Return to the heart rate machine and guests can see an increase from even a small amount of activity. 

"It's heightening awareness and giving kids knowledge about what they can do to impact their own health and physical well being," said Dr. Michael Cropp, CEO of Independent Health. "We thought this was a great opportunity to create something interactive and fun where kids can gain some knowledge that's going to stick with them and have an impact on some of the personal choices they'll make and carry with them for a lifetime."

Going forward, the continuing partnership between the museum and Independent Health will allow regular updates and changes to be made to the studio, Biber said.

"That's another great thing about these science studios is that we design them to change as we go along," she said. "We'll also be working with Roswell Park Institute so we can highlight the life sceinces going on right here in Western New York. This is a great way to show that."

The next studio is scheduled to open in October and will focus on earth systems, including weather, earthquakes, geology, alternative forms of energy and crystal formations.

Entry to the gallery — and future galleries — is free with standard Buffalo Museum of Science admission prices.

Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.