SFI Distinguished Professor Murray Gell-Mann's photo and quote on display in the Thinking Lounge at the Santa Fe Children's Museum

A new multimedia exhibit at the Santa Fe Children's Museum gives kids a glimpse of what SFI scientists are learning about cities.

The exhibit, which opened May 10, is a collaboration among SFI, the Museum, and the Media Arts program at New Mexico Highlands University.

SFI Professor Luis Bettencourt and Postdoctoral Fellow Clio Andris worked with the Media Arts students to develop age-appropriate materials for the hands-on interactive exhibit on the Science of Cities.

A six-panel interactive wall piece titled "What Makes a City?" guides children through questions about what makes a city tick using photographs, data visualization, touch-and-feel components, time-lapsed video, and more. A 3-D Lego building area encourages young visitors to build their own cities.

A Thinking Lounge in the museum’s solarium features large photos and inspirational quotes from scientists, including an Albert Einstein quote in large letters that captures the spirit of the exhibit: "Play is the highest form of research."

Outside, nine 6.5-foot-high colorful banners with photos of children from Santa Fe's sister cities are on display.

The exhibit was designed to help children understand the complex physical and social aspects that comprise a city, conveying that cities are much more than just buildings and are made up of people and how they interact.

"Working with the students at Highlands was such a great experience," says Andris. "They're creative and energetic, and they really know how to build something and get the job done. We rarely get our research 'out there' in the public space because it's never done – we are always thinking and revising. Making it accessible to kids was a fun challenge."

The Science of Cities exhibit was made possible through funding from the Delle Foundation. 

Read the NMHU news release (May 10, 2013)

More about SFI's cities & urbanization research

More about the Santa Fe Children's Museum

More SFI News