Saturday, October 3, 2015

Department of Natural Resources Goes Beyond Fun at the Outdoor Adventure Center

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Another Homework Assignment.

By Alan Knox
Saturday, October 3, 2015
Photos by Author

Signs explaining the purpose of each item in the house for children

Located at The DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, the DNR’s creative exhibit entitled “Nature in Your Neighborhood,” affirms a changing pattern about the impact technology is having on the environment. Society has taken notice of the environment and therefore, the industry which creates home appliances has also. The DNR successfully reaches its target audience of adults and children with the nature in Your Neighborhood exhibit by displaying technology in a manner which is interactive and aesthetically appealing. Patrons are drawn into the exhibit to engage in the educational experience. The exhibit is located on the second floor of the museum, right at the intersection of the two pathways on that level. At first glance, this exhibit looks no different than a house based play area that you would encounter at any other museum or zoo.
Climate changes are occurring throughout the globe. The cause of global warming, and these climate changes, is predominantly from the effects of society’s usage of natural resources. If society does not begin to adapt and make changes, effects of climate changes will be felt all over. Illness will increase, death from extreme heat will be more likely, and diseases transmitted from water will become more widespread unless changes are made to the infrastructure of the way society uses natural resources.

In this exhibit, adults and children receive green themed information in a manner which is both hands-on and entertaining. In particular, the Nature in Your Neighborhood section draws patron in with lights differing in colors. Once inside the staged, indoor house, patrons are given the chance to interact with environmentally friendly technology. The thermostat controls a light that alters from red when on hotter temperatures to blue when placed on cooler temperatures. The refrigerator and dishwasher are both low-energy to help reduce the usage of electricity. Additionally, the walls are decorated with tips on how to conserve energy and ways to make simple changes. The signs containing these tips are located near by the appliance or control that the tip most closely relates to.

In the bathroom of the small house, the shower head is a low-flow example. There are also lights to help patrons see the difference of hot water usage versus cold water consumption. In addition to the visual cues, signs displaying tips are also posted on how to shorten showers to conserve water. The toilet displayed is energy efficient and low-flow to demonstrate how a simple change can make a positive impact on the environment.

Outside the house, there are additional tips and items to use to reduce the impact housing has on the environment. A rain barrel is attached to the house to demonstrate the benefits of collecting rainwater to help conservation efforts. A simulated garden with plastic vegetables depicts produce that is easy to grow locally, even in your own back yard. Patrons can plant and harvest the vegetables to then take them into the kitchen to pretend to cook.

The Nature in Your Neighborhood exhibit intends to educate patrons on environmentally friendly techniques and also technology available. Overall, the exhibit meets these expectations well. The hands-on aspect of the experience allows patrons to see and use the technology. Children are engaged in a learning experience without even realizing they are being educated. The signage displayed is attractive and draws a reader in. For those who struggle with reading, the usage of shapes and pictures aids with the ideas being presented. Adults are entertained as well as children in the exhibit. There is adequate information to be educational, but not an overload to become boring. All ages are welcome and feel a part of the experience. The DNR’s Outdoor Adventure Center is a great place to see exhibits such as The Nature in Your Neighborhood which capture the attention of patrons while offering information on becoming a better consumer of the earth.

The DNR Outdoor Adventure Center is open Wednesday through Friday from 10am – 4pm, Saturday from 10am – 5pm, and Sunday from 12pm – 5pm. It is located at 1801 Atwater St. in Detroit, right along the Detroit River near Belle Isle. Parking is conveniently located near the building.

A child enjoying a simulated warm shower



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