BodyWorks

Overview:

World of Life, located on the second floor of the California Science Center, is a 17,500 square foot exhibition space that examines the commonalties of the living world, from a single celled bacterium to the 100 trillion-celled human being. Within World of Life is BodyWorks, a theater accomodating up to 120 guests with seating in-the-round. Here the audience is introduced to Tess and Walt during a 15-minute multimedia show which runs approximately every 30 minutes throughout the day.

BodyWorks brings together technology, multimedia and theater to make science learning fun and relevant; it is an example of object theater. Object theater utilizes an amazing learning approach incorporating three-dimensional objects to tell a story in an accessible, engaging way.

Exhibit highlights:

In a colorful workshop filled with technical gadgetry, guests meet Tess, a 50-foot anatomically correct transparent human model. Animatronics, animation and special effects bring the BodyWorks show to life as Tess and Walt, her cartoon caretaker, explore what the body does during a game of soccer. It is here that guests learn how their organs work together to keep their bodies in balance or in homeostasis.

With a light-hearted bumble of activity, Walt conducts a humorous dialogue with Tess as he investigates how the body's systems react to exercise. Projected on a video screen above Tess' head, guests see an all girls' soccer team run, jump and play while their system's responses are explained by Tess. Pulsating strobe and chaser lights illuminate an insider's view of how Tess' circulatory, brain and nervous systems respond. It is a "moving" experience as Tess raises her arm 27 feet in the air or stretches out her 30-foot long leg.

Educational goal:

Tess helps the Science Center create a memorable educational experience that showcases basic physiology in an inventive, easy-to-understand manner. By taking a science principle that is little known to guests, like homeostasis, and making its definition accessible, BodyWorks educates the public about one of the most fundamental principles of human biology. Maintaining homeostasis is key to keeping the body working properly, whether a person is sitting still or playing a very physical game of soccer. Homeostasis is the stable environment inside the body that organs work together to maintain. This stable environment is necessary if the cells that make up the body are to survive and function normally.

Background:

The California Science Center blends interactive exhibits, a neighborhood science and math focused elementary school, a science education resource center for educators, parents and members of community organizations, state-of-the-art conference facilities, a new IMAX theater with 3D and traditional 2D capabilities, innovative public spaces highlighting science and art, enhanced dining areas and an expanded retail shop. The California Science Center represents a $130-million investment of private and public funds for construction and exhibits. Anticipated annual attendance is over 2 million visitors, including more than 500,000 school children.

Exhibition designer:

West Office Exhibition Design, Oakland, California

Major funding provided by:

W. M. Keck Foundation and National Science Foundation