Facebook Donates $250k to Fort Worth Museum

FORT WORTH, Texas – Holograms, giant floating spheres, and 3-D hurricane maps all sound like sci-fi movies. In an exhibit taken from scenes from Star Wars or some other futuristic spectacle, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will combine high-tech science with breaking news events starting next spring. Current Science Studio offers 3D imagery of subjects like the Mars Rover’s upcoming landing, COVID-19 case tracking, and more.

What you need to know

  • The Current Science Studio is housed in an area of ​​2,500 square feet in the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
  • Facebook donated $ 250,000 to fund the project
  • The centerpiece will be Science On a Sphere, a floating sphere six feet in diameter
  • The museum hopes to open the exhibition to the public by January

The exhibition is located in a 2,500-square-foot studio and includes low-touch interactive portals and cutting-edge media that can display images and videos from institutions such as NASA and NOAA.

Funding for The Current Science Studio came from a grant from one of Fort Worth’s newest major imports, Facebook. The social media company, whose data center opened near Alliance Airport in North Fort Worth in 2017, donated $ 255,000 to fund the exhibition.

The new exhibit is anchored by Science On a Sphere, a huge global display system developed by NOAA. The interactive sphere will use computers and high resolution projectors to display approximately 1,500 views of the earth, planetary systems, and other animations. Six feet in diameter, the globe can showcase events such as hurricanes, the effects of climate change, and other phenomena in a way that is more haunted than normal exhibits.

A holographic gallery will add to the awe of the room, the images of which change at the push of a button, said Dr. Doug Roberts, astrophysicist and chief public engagement officer at the museum.

“Part of our interest was to see if we could make a gallery almost entirely virtual,” he said. “So we basically put together a proposal for Facebook. They invited us to do this along the line of technology that was Science On a Sphere as well as a whole range of next generation holographic displays. “

The museum has received several smaller grants from the company since moving to the city in 2017.

“The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is an incredible community resource,” said Holli Davies, regional manager for Facebook Community Development. “Facebook is proud to continue our close partnership with the museum and to support this new marquee technology that will have a direct impact on STEM education in Tarrant County. Facebook has been part of the Fort Worth community since our data center opened in 2017. We are committed to playing a positive role in Tarrant County and supporting its students. We can’t wait to see the exhibition come to life in 2021. “

Dr. Morgan Rehnterg, the museum’s chief scientist, was an integral part of the development of The Current Science Studio. One of the goals of the exhibition is to reflect what is happening in the news.

“If 2020 showed us something, the news can change very quickly,” he said. “You might be worried about forest fires one month, hurricanes the next month, and a vaccine the following month. We want the entire gallery to be able to respond quickly.

“So let’s say we are talking about the amazing Mars landing that will take place in February,” he continued. “It would be great to show our visitors models of all the previous landers and rovers that have landed on Mars. NASA provides these types of assets. So we can download these models and then integrate them into our gallery so that a visitor can see how the new rover performs compared to the previous models. “

The technology will appeal to younger people as they are already constantly interacting with digital devices. The Current Science Studio, he said, will be more attuned to the type of learning models they experience on a daily basis.

“We don’t want the museum to look like this clumsy old institution compared to everything that’s going on in the world,” he said.

The studio’s installation will begin in February, and Roberts estimated it would take up to a month. The museum will develop its own content for the project and hopes to add more kid-friendly features. Such an attraction will use the same technology used in “deepfake” videos.

“We will use the same technology, but with it we will bring the earth to life for a child,” he said.

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