The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI), founded at the 1964–65 World’s Fair and has evolved into a super fun-for-all-ages interactive science museum in Queens, New York. It is accessible via subway and school and private vehicles. NYSCI offers hours of informal, hands-on learning through exhibits, an awesome playground, and online products using the “design-make-play” method which focuses on delight and play while educating and introducing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
This post looks at two of their "products" one that is offered (free) online (Transmissions: Gone Viral) and one (The Pack) that is available to enjoy in person for individuals and/or large groups at their facility as well as online with game downloads for Macs and Windows (see links below).
TRANSMISSIONS: GONE VIRAL
Transmissions: Gone Viral is an online interactive comic book used to teach scientific inquiry and about the world of viruses and their transmission. More specifically, it tells the story of the West Nile Virus and how it was discovered.
Transmissions: Gone Viral Overview: This online comic (designed for middle grades) follows three friends (Maria, Rani and Eduardo) who investigate a virus plaguing animals and humans in their neighborhood. They first come across a dead crow and soon learn of more dead birds, as well as a mysterious illness that is affecting some elderly neighbors, including Eduardo and Maria’s grandmother.
The comic teaches:
The scientific process of sorting evidence, finding patterns, forming hypotheses, and using scientific tests to confirm their theories;
Evolutionary principles of biology and homology (the study of similar biological structures between different organisms); and
That all animals, including humans, are related and can share diseases.
Review and details: As Maria, Rani and Eduardo work with a veterinary pathologist and an entomologist to investigate the mystery of the dead crows, each page of this comic takes us one step deeper in their thinking and scientific inquiry. Its story and Interactive challenges provide readers with an engaging mystery while teaching about viruses and scientific inquiry.
Throughout the narrative this online comic engages readers as we sort evidence and find patterns that may help solve the mystery. Each page contains a "glossary" link for science-related words introduced and the interactives are engaging and impressive. They include “Build a Body” where readers learn about homologous bones from different animals and match limbs to incomplete skeletons; a “Map App” to explore the location of various types of evidence including dead birds, rat poison, garbage and standing water; and a “Virus Game” where readers become a virus with a goal of spreading infection by the most efficient means possible.
An interesting note: The game – playable in the digital comic book – has the player assume a position as an unnamed virus, infecting hosts around the globe, switching hosts between mosquitos and birds. The game ends when the virus’ host dies, or when the player’s virus is successful in infecting the whole map. For NYSCI’s annual Bug Day in June, they took Gone Viral off the web and brought it onto NYSCI’s museum floor, in the form of an oversized multiplayer board game where participants – playing as West Nile Virus, switch from bird hosts to mosquito hosts in an attempt to infect various locations in the area – while incorporating new elements often seen in board games. To read more about this, please visit: https://nysci.org/making-of-the-gone-viral-boardgame/
The web-based comic book can be downloaded at nysci.org/transmissions.
A non-interactive PDF format of the comic book can be downloaded at https://nysci.org/wp-content/uploads/Transmissons-Gone-Viral-Downloadable-PDF.pdf
Images for Media Use can be downloaded from the New York Hall of Science Flickr site at https://flic.kr/s/aHsmB9Gmd2
Teacher guides can be downloaded at no cost from nysci.org/transmissions.
The Pack, is a mobile only app based on the museum exhibit (still open) Connected Worlds. Connected Worlds, a previous collaboration between NYSCI and Design I/O, immerses visitors in an interactive environment, where through open-ended play, they can make changes in interconnected ecosystems. It allows visitors of all ages to explore environmental concepts and computational thinking.
As an app, The Pack is an open-ended, digital game set in a fictional world called Algos and filled with colorful, whimsical creatures. As noted on their website: “Players use...test and revise their algorithms until they succeed at the task...[developing] their computational thinking skills... in high demand... in the classroom, [and] also in the workplace.”
How to play:
The game begins as players are instructed to release their friend from a mysterious state of motionlessness that resulted when the environments of Algos were destroyed. The only way to release their friend is to collect seeds that are hidden throughout the world. When the required number of seeds is collected, the environment is regenerated and the player is a step closer to being reunited with their friend. To regenerate, however, players must consider how to find seeds, how to plant them (each character has specific functions (digging, moving, holding, seeking, etc.), how to use various envorinments' unique plants, how to help them grow, and how to collect the food, ALL while considering the correct balance of available water , food, and multiple environmental obstacles to overcome.
Images for media use can be downloaded from the New York Hall of Science Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/gp/nysci/q49s2s.
For media access to the game prior to the April 22 release date, contact Mary Record at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post, however, is just the tip of NYSCI's many exhibits and learning opportunities. We hope you'll take a closer look.
And, for some paired reading recommendations here's a link to find related science graphic novels. They can be found under "Recommended Books" (https://www.meryljaffe.com/recomendations) and "Lessons" (https://www.meryljaffe.com/lessons) on this website.
Additional Resources from NYSCI:
Wild Minds https://nysci.org/home/exhibits/wild-minds/ is an exhibition here that we adapted into an interactive iBook available here: https://books.apple.com/us/book/wild-minds/id1065382268
Also blog posts at nysci.org/transmissions, the Comic book workshop: https://nysci.org/comic-book-design/ which is a program that happened as a result of Transmissions and took place here at NYSCI. We also did a panel at Comic Con panel last year.