By Patrick McShea
Within We Are Nature an interactive kiosk known as EarthTime documents alarming change over recent decades in glacial melting, the clearing of rainforests, and coral bleaching. The imagery, which was generated by NASA satellites and compiled by students at Carnegie Mellon University, is simultaneously displayed on a table-mounted touchscreen and a towering adjacent display screen.
Literal glimmers of hope appear on both screens when visitors select the digital loop that documents the increase in the installation of solar energy panels across the US between 1984 and 2016. A textbox message directs viewers to, “Notice how installations start on the coasts and make their way inland.”
A recent visitor who replayed the seven-second simulation a few times voiced her state-focused perspective to a companion: “Watch this. Solar energy blooms in Austin before it does in Houston or Dallas.”
Patrick McShea works in the Education and Visitor Experience department of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.