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The Big Back Yard was a radical departure for the Science Museum of Minnesota. At 52,000 square feet, it's ten times the size of the exhibits we usually do. It's outdoors. It's full of plants that have to be kept alive and maintained. Finally, it's about water, which the ancients (wisely) noted "knows nothing of mercy." In partnership with the University of Minnesota's Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics, we devised a set of exhibit experiences that illustrate the impacts of water on the Earth by using mini-golf, a culturally-appropriate (this being Minnesota) icon. The visitor's ball represents a drop of water. As they play, they learn about the impact of man-made structures on water flow, erosion, sedimentation and other science issues. Most of the learning is experiential—sculpting water channels, putting through turbulence, choosing a path of "run-off" for your golf ball. Extremely popular with visitors, the space also includes an energy-self-sufficient Environmental Education Center and a prairie maze of native grasses.
Visit the Big Back Yard exhibit website.