Historic sites and museums have begun answering the call for highly interactive, informal science experiences in communities where museum-going families have limited access to science centers. Conner Prairie Interactive History Park in Fishers, Indiana, in partnership with the Science Museum of Minnesota, has developed the NSF funded Create.Connect project, an exhibit and program venue that integrates science activities with the time- and place-specific narratives. Four settings drawn from Indiana history provide context for science exploration in the areas of wind and electrical energy, aeronautics, and engineering innovation.



In Create.Connect visitors explore science within four places and moments in Indiana History: 1900 Flint & Walling windmill sales booth, a 1950’s patent agency, 1936 Boone County farmhouse, and a barnstormers workshop in 1910.


Build and test windmill blades
A Conner Prairie facilitator helps visitors build and test windmill blades as they try to find the best design for using wind power to drive a trip hammer.


At the wind turbine bench, visitors experiment with blade shapes, number, placement, and pitch. They use instruments—a tachometer and a watt meter—to to judge which configuration generates the most electricity.


Digital Wind Map
Indiana is at the center of the digital wind map. Visitors may view current wind conditions and a selection of past wind events, such as Hurricane Sandy or March 2, 2012, when multiple tornadoes hit Indiana.


Patent agency
While Mr. Wizard plays on the television, a young visitor “snoops” through the drawers at the Patent Agency, investigating past Hoosier patent drawings and applications.


Invention cards
Visitors use a variety of materials to create their own chain reaction machine. Invention cards offer engineering constraints such as defining which elements must be used or limiting the number of elements.


Machine lifters
Offering a twist on an old classic, this ball run featurpredetermined start and finish elements, and predetermined start and finish elements, and visitors need to figure out how to get from one to the other.


A visitor explores tools, and materials used by an aviatrix to maintain, repair, and improve her airplane. Tools, objects, and news accounts of notable Hoosier aviators share space with a selection of aeronautics-related interactives.


A young engineer/designer takes aim as he prepares to test launch his glider toward a target.


Costumed Facilitator
A costumed facilitator helps a visitor further her understanding of electrical concepts at the AC-DC electricity bench.


Simple Circuit Blocks and a ground plan of a house let visitors plan how to wire the house to get electricity where it will be of the most use.
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