GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Museum visitors may now learn about some of the University of Florida’s most interesting global discoveries and research – from how to free whales entangled in lobster traps to how plants will grow in space.
These and other UF projects are highlighted in “Explore Research,” a new interactive multimedia exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. The exhibit features short videos updated monthly and an interactive Smart Board to engage visitors in the journey of scientific discovery at UF, including its relevance and benefits.
The initiative was developed as a collaborative project by the museum, the UF Office of Research and the UF Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership. Two- to three-minute videos produced by UF students feature research from across the university in fields including medicine, engineering and agricultural sciences.
“Many people are not aware of the scope of the university’s ongoing worldwide research from many colleges and departments across campus,” said Florida Museum of Natural History Director Doug Jones. “This exhibit allows UF scientists to share their interesting and beneficial projects with a wider audience.”
The exhibit also features one research project with a related Smart Board activity, items in display cases and a video, which will change several times a year.
“This exhibit is the public face of our new partnership to connect UF researchers and public audiences,” said Dale Johnson, project coordinator for the museum’s Center for Informal Science and Education. “We hope to increase public awareness of the breadth of research at UF and understanding of how this research impacts our daily lives.”
Current videos feature the Florida Museum’s efforts to inventory the world’s largest order of freshwater fishes, a UF College of Engineering project to develop land mine detection techniques and a UF department of horticultural sciences study of how plants will grow in space.
Through December, the exhibit showcases a UF College of Veterinary Medicine program developing strategies to anesthetize and free right whales entangled in lobster traps. It includes a video, displays that show some of the tools researchers are using and an interactive touchscreen activity related to whales.
Joseph Kays, UF director of research communication who helped develop the partnership, said university scientists have responded positively to the exhibit and the opportunity it provides to share the impact of their research with the public.
“Through ‘Explore Research,’ we’re able to reach new audiences,” Kays said. “Our goal is to show people the value of the research that’s being done at UF.”
The project also benefits students in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Ricky Telg, a professor in the department of agricultural education and communication, teaches the advanced video production class of students who produce the “Explore Research” videos.
“This course is great for the students because it gives them real, hands-on experience they can use after graduation,” Telg said. “The students learn to work with researchers and communicate complex science concepts to the general public.”
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