OMSI celebrates 75 years with ‘Turbine Hall’ makeover

Learn how the ‘Turbine Hall’ – where steam once created electricity – now better supports OMSI’s “STEAM” programming …

It’s still the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Turbine Hall, but now it’s considered the epicenter for science, technology, engineering, art, and math learning.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

As the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) celebrates its 75th anniversary, they’ve been making changes, including the transformation of the “Turbine Hall” – the big room with the old PGE steam turbine in it – into a place for kids and their families to learn about STEAM.

“Back in the day, steam power created electricity for Portland,” recounted OMSI President and CEO Nancy Stuber. “Now, in this room, we’re presenting STEAM – ‘science, technology, engineering, art, and math’ education – in a way that positively impacts our guests and our community!

OMSI President and CEO Nancy Stuber spends a moment with Union Pacific Railroad Public Affairs Officer Aaron Hunt, at the new “Preparing to Quake” Innovation Station.

After testing different ways of effectively presenting STEAM topics in different areas of the museum, and learning how to help people to solve problems, Stuber said, “We have ‘taken it to scale’ using the Turbine Hall exhibit area.

“Here, we’ll be inviting families to solve problems, and use design thinking, to come up to solutions to problems that we face in our community, and which are faced around the globe,” Stuber told East Portland News.

When the building was originally renovated for OMSI, the Turbine Room was home to its Physics Lab, Chemistry Lab, Curium and Epicenter. Now, it hosts what OMSI calls “Innovation Stations” – offering hands-on learning experiences.

In the Turbine Hall, visitors will find new “Innovation Stations” which present problem-solving challenges for them to help solve.

“At these Innovation Stations, we tell stories, and pose problems – presenting modern society’s biggest challenges in a way our guests are likely motivated to try to solve,” explained Stuber.

On the upper level, created for older youth, is the new “Teen Tech Center”, which is a multimedia and creative technology-focused “maker” space, specifically for those ages 13-18.

Trying out the computers in the new “Teen Tech Center” is OMSI Director, Institutional Giving Patricia Brooke.

“We provide space, materials, and support so teens can express themselves creatively, and gain hands-on experience with high-tech tools and programs to help them explore careers, and perhaps find pathways to higher education,” Stuber remarked.

If you haven’t explored the Turbine Hall with your kids lately, go take a look.

Find out more about OMSI at their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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