Academy's Wishlist Analysis

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Wish item Problem/Solution Goal Analysis
Academy Species Database Available in Your Hand Held Signage is not adequate to identify all species encountered in Steinhart aquarium exhibits in the Academy even though the information is available within Academy database.

“You see things in the aquarium and don’t know what they are”

Make the existing database of Academy species “come alive” We agree that there’s a lack of signage in the aquarium and sometimes there was a difficult correlation between signs and exhibit.

What we saw that the laminated ID sheets at the large tanks (Philippine, California Coast) engaged children with parents as a joint activity in exploring the large tanks. The physically large format of the ID sheets (legal sized paper?) made sharing/viewing easy. Along with that the small LCD displays were unique and have tremendous potential. Research for this enhancement would be to identify the proportion of guests who have appropriate handhelds, and explore if the same interaction would be prompted by a more personal device.

Farallones Camera Control Bring the Farallones camera and location to the Academy exhibit area in an engaging way. Provide a tactile interaction with the Farallones remote camera Honestly, we explored the entire museum, or thought we had, and never encountered this exhibit. The first portion would probably involve advertising the camera, and identifying an interaction which provides a satisfying feedback based on the camera properties (latency, refresh rate)
Extend Sustainable Engagement How do you learn about reducing your environmental footprint, apply it to your life and remain connected to the Academy? A mobile app, similar to standard carbon calculators, but with a communal component built-in would be helpful. Allow visitors to check off measures they are taking to reduce their footprint, see the results of these actions both individually, and collectively with other visitors, and contribute some kind of public comment about their efforts. The target audience for this enhancement will dictate the tools to be used. For example an iPhone application might not effectively reach an audience of elementary/middle school students. Also it might be important to tie this to an experience at the Academy
Take a guided tour of Altered State Visitors wander in to Altered State with little direction or wayfinding. It can be confusing and easy to miss important topics. A mobile, interactive tool to help guide you around Altered State and add compelling content to your experience The impression here is that there might be simpler ways to fix the way-finding / path problems of the exhibit other than a mobile application.
Create Your Own Collection Providing visitors with the ability and motivation to collect individual objects, “virtual specimens” or mini-exhibits. Engage visitors in extended museum experiences within and outside the Academy, possibly involving other museum and informal science education institutions. We feel that there is potential here, especially when combined with the virtual scavenger hunt (more on this later). The Academy advertises having millions of species in their collection, but no way for guests to explore, on site or virtually. Maybe creating a mini exhibit that is a “Real World Wikipedia” with rotating specimens onsite and supplemented with an online portion.
Virtual Scavenger Hunt Some areas of the academy are “overly popular”, too highly traveled, creating constant pinch points, while others are under visited, e.g. Islands of Evolution Physically re-distribute visitor flow while increasing exhibit engagement. We think a scavenger hunt or achievement system (similar to those in video games and online communities) could really encourage visitors to explore more areas. What’s really exciting is something like this could be expanded beyond the Academy to include other institutes within San Francisco and even California. By setting milestones within this program (ie obtaining x number of achievements) there could be rewards to encourage further participation.
African Hall Time Window Africa Hall has resonance and evokes a sense of the institutional history with visitors, but it is a relatively static exhibit, a snapshot of a specific location at a specific time. Supplement each exhibit with images and sounds of those same locations as they have changed over time. Perhaps add multimedia or video component to make the dioramas come to life. Create a more varied visitor experience in Africa Hall. We agree that the exhibit is static, but offers immense potential for enhancement, in both theming and storytelling. Lots of opportunities to explain concepts of the ecosystem, food web, population ratios (predators/prey) and evolution and how all these are all related.
Interactive Exhibit Map To Go “Plan Your Expedition” is tied to the desktop. Extend the availability of the Interactive Map of the Academy.. Possibilities to showcase/prototype new technologies inside the museum at map stations. It could also be an easy phone application and provide an opportunity to observe usage of handheld devices.
Visual Match of Species on Exhibit with Database Signage is not adequate to identify all species encountered in the Academy exhibits, visitors may not have the patience to enter search strings, but would use an image capture as the basis for match. Make the visuals and descriptions the Academy fish database (or more general species database) available to the Academy visitor in a way that they can easily identify a species. Option – limit this to Africa Hall with non-moving species to simplify as a prototype. Very interesting concept and would involve a great deal of development with respect to hardware and software. An iterative process that singles out particular obstacles could bring this project to a manageable level.
Guide for caregivers of young children Groups with children under the age of 5 are a large component of the Academy's visitorship and it's important to foster the scientific inquiry and love of nature young children have. Yet, children under 5 who cannot read provide challenges for the museum: they cannot read, they do not have good vocabularies, they have short attention spans. How can we provide parents, grandparents, and caregivers the tools to enhance the educational value of a visit by young children? Give parents/caregivers some tools they can use on-site and also at home or in the park (etc) to engage their children to learn about the natural world, teach appreciation, foster observation skills, and promote curiosity. We think most important part of this project would be content development. There will be a need to demonstrate effective communication between the application and the parent in such a way that the parent can accurately communicate with their child.

Possible target platforms

Wish item Point Person
Academy Species database available in your handheld Most used devices (Iphone as prototype?)
Farallones Camera Control Live link to a camera on the Farallones. Canned footage of the Farallones 360 panorama on a pristine clear day. Visitor interface needs to be determined.
Extend Sustainable Engagement Existing Arena for Engagement (or revamped version in February 2010). Sustainability Made Simple Card, Hand-held Mobile devices. Other?
Take a guided tour of Altered State Existing Altered State exhibit (or revamped version in February 2010). Hand-held Mobile devices. Other?
Create your own collection Iphone is the target, but could extended to other hand held devices and to personal computers.
Virtual Scavenger hunt TBD, possible rewards in the Academy Store
African Hall time window TBD
Interactive Exhibit Map to Go Mobile Devices, prototype on Iphone.
Visual Match of Species on Exhibit to database Any hand-held device that will allow a capture, visual search and match.
Guide for caregivers of young children Any hand-held device

Point Person

Wish item Point Person
Academy Species database available in your handheld Carol and Jonathan
Farallones Camera Control Linda
Extend Sustainable Engagement Aaron
Take a guided tour of Altered State Aaron
Create your own collection Carol to date
Virtual Scavenger hunt Carol and Jonathan to date
African Hall time window Carol to date
Interactive Exhibit Map to Go Jonathan
Visual Match of Species on Exhibit to database Carol, Tom
Guide for caregivers of young children Carol, Celeste Argel (Manager of Early Childhood Education). Maybe someone from Education?