Thursday, October 18, 2012

Footsteps - Gulf Coast Exploreum's "My Bodyworks"

Welcome again, readers. Today in Footsteps, we have dug up another exhibit of interest, this time, centered in downtown Alabama, at the Gulf Coast Exploreum. The exhibit in question is one called "My Bodyworks", which is one of the human body exhibits in focus.

The museum exterior building, as seen here:

The "My Bodyworks" exhibit, opened in January 2009, is a high-tech look at the human body, in an interactive, hands-on and engaging way. According to the Gulf Coast Exploreum's official site, the interactive hall contains 50 custom designed exhibits to dazzle a wide range of audiences. The main game of the exhibit isn't just hands on edutainment, but also in an interactive manner, as the site describes:
From the 12-foot-tall beating heart to augmented reality, science meets fun at every turn. Each exhibit reveals information about anatomy, nutrition or exercise. Learn more about the skin you're in and how to live life to the fullest with healthy choices.
 Head to Toe: An interactive scanner, allowing guests to get to know the body's systems at a glance.This, along with other exhibits, is demonstrated at the 3:57 minute mark

Interiorwise, it feels like a large, futuristic laboratory, one that MET Biotech would have bawled over if it wasn't for sponsor cuts (but enough with the jealousy element). Here's a lowdown of the exhibit stations at a glance:
  • The BeHealthy stations, which encourages everyone to test their physical activity skills within a range of activities in a fun and engaging way. Whether through jump tests, upper muscle strength or flexibility tests (such as the Dance Dance Revolution, Cardiac Style game), through to measuring blood pressure and volume, and even an exercise activity to see how long it would burn the calories in (example given) a cheeseburger! As part of the interactivity experience, visitors would record their results on the activity cards, and they would be traded for your personal health profile.

  • My Beating Heart, a 12 foot tall illuminated heart model, designed to display the signs of cardiac arrest in a biomechanical manner. The premise is the heart is seen beating normally, but during a simulated blood clot, it works harder and faces cardiac arrest. A monument of borderline 'creep factor', but at the same time, a head on look on the heart as it functions. Also, augmented reality cards allowing the virtual inspection of the heart's exterior, functions and many components and valves, forming the secondary heart of this cardiac exhibit. 

My Beating Heart: The interactive heart display
  • Head to Toe Display, (seen further upwards) which is a spectacular 'window to the innards', via a movable screen to scan a life size representation of the body, delving into five of the body's well known systems (skeletal, muscular, cardiopulmonary, nervous and digestive); users can touch the screen and switch from one system to another, to view text based/video based information on the organ of that system.
  • Ernest G DeBakey Virtual Surgery Center, a high tech surgery simulation center covering more than a selection of surgical procedures, from a virtual heart bypass, knee replacement surgery, blood vessel repair with laser-beam tools, and even endoscopic surgery techniques.
The Ernest G DeBakey Virtual Surgery Center, home of some of the most innovative surgery simulation displays.
Along with these exhibits, there is also a BioLab, appropriately named as it is a fully functioning laboratory, where visitors can participate in some interesting experiments, and view some entertaining demonstrations. At any time, five different experiment procedures designed for visitors to explore health and biology in a hands on manner in its different sections (the body, medicine, health, nutrition, fitness), and has covered a range of themes covered bi-monthly (cited on the website including "...Human Body Systems, Health & Nutrition, Physical Fitness, Human Growth & Aging, Immunology, Microbiology, Human Anatomy..."). On-stage demonstrations also allow visitors to serve as volunteers as part of each explored topic. Healthy cooking demonstrations, virtual lab visits and workshops have also happened there.

A glimpse of the BioLab, with a set of exercise racers (visitors get to race against a skeletal model to understand how their skeleton works) 
The reason why I managed to bring this up as part of the Footsteps series is that there is an interesting allusion to the Frontiers in Medicine, one that would have been the biomedical premise bearing similarities to another exhibit on EPCOT territory, The Living Seas. Of course, while we already have a laboratory within EPCOT borders (the one situated in The Land in charge of managing the garden), it would be interesting to have a laboratory setting when it comes to approaching the topic of advances in medical technology. Add to the amusement or touring aspects of Body Wars (or a similar niche ride with that biomedical factor, original development permitting) and you have yourselves, yet again, part of a possible new lease on Life. After describing and analysis of the exhibit components, it is interesting how innovative "My Bodyworks" appears, and hence is an excellent contender in the Footsteps section of this blog.

Here are some source links of where some of the information was quoted or referenced from, along with some other pages for further reading or research:
If you have any experiences pertaining to visiting the exhibit, whether from anecdotes or memories or even a few pics, feel free to mention them in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check back other articles within the Footsteps section, and if you know of a great health or human body exhibit worth researching (or free-promoting!) feel free to drop a line!

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