March 6, 2018Jessica Liken, Perot Museum of Nature and Science
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas was thrilled to bring Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein back to life just in time to celebrate the groundbreaking novel’s 200th anniversary.
On January 26, 2018, approximately 1,500 adults chose to spend their Friday night at the Museum for Social Science, a unique adults-only event featuring experiments, demonstrations, talks by local scientists, art and maker experiences, and plenty of adult beverages.
The theme of the night was “Experimental” and featured cutting-edge science from across the disciplines. Guests experimented with chemical reactions, invisibility cloaking, worm neuroscience, and other topics pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge. They also had the opportunity to attend talks featuring the science of video games and advances in forensic pathology - all while enjoying the night’s signature cocktail, the Apple Pop Elixir.
The event’s featured activity was “Frankenstein’s Lab,” which transformed the Moody Family Children’s Museum into a space for exploring the novel’s theme of responsible innovation. The questions asked by Shelley 200 years ago are not unlike the ones we ask in science today. What is life? Why do we create? What are our responsibilities as creators, scientists, and engineers?
Museum volunteers facilitated a selection of tabletop activities from the NISE Net’s Frankenstein200 kit that addressed these questions. Guests created a battery using their own electricity, worked with common materials to make a voltaic pile, and tinkered with circuits to create artistic bots.
While the kit activities were designed with family audiences in mind, they successfully sparked the interest of the adult guests and reanimated their inner childhood curiosity. Many of the volunteers were surprised at how well the activities engaged guests and remarked at how even adults were fascinated by the electricity experiments.
In addition to the Frankstein200 kit activities, Museum educators shocked guests with electricity demonstrations using Tesla Coils and a Van de Graaff generator. Educators also dissected preserved sheep brains throughout the night, allowing guests to examine and even touch the intricate organ that drives us in the quest for knowledge and innovation.
“Frankenstein’s Lab” was a popular attraction throughout the night, engaging the adult audience in thoughtful experimentation and conversation. We hope the experience inspired guests to think critically about their own roles in responsible innovation- and maybe even to pick up a copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein!
Visit www.perotmusuem.org to learn more about the Perot Museum and upcoming events.