Although computers are omnipresent, very few people really know how they work. This is what “Paper airplanes and Twister” aims to explain to everyone aged nine and upwards.
The hands-on exhibition gives children, families and adults alike a better understanding of the exciting world of computer science. There is plenty of fun to be had at 25 stations over 800 square metres of floorspace, with lots of opportunity for interaction in the course of which basic computer know-how will be absorbed.
Hands-on computer science
Much of the exhibition dispenses with complex technology. Wooden structures predominate. Other elements call for a degree of physical input, while yet others are based on children’s experiences of the electronic world. All these stations have one thing in common, however: visitors will have plenty of fun learning how the binary system works.
How do computers perform calculations? How do they process and save data and what underlying technology do they use? The exhibition explains the binary system of 0s and 1s and the logical AND, OR, NOT principle clearly and illustrates the meaning of crucial computer terms such as algorithm, command and loop in a variety of ways.
Wide range of stations
Challenges to be tackled by visitors include folding a paper airplane – which is subsequently launched into the air from a ramp – and replicating a series of Twister jumps. Both serve as everyday examples of an algorithm, a command sequence on the basis of which computers also operate.
The AND, OR, NOT principle is explained using an ice cream stand as an exhibit: cornet or tub, vanilla and chocolate? The selection process illustrates out how it all works.
Sorting is demonstrated by means of a sorting carpet on which up to six people arrange themselves in five stages, while a sock puzzle shows how searches are performed.
One section is devoted to the issue of how films are made out of individual images and how a digital image is composed, with visitors creating pixel images. The “zoetrope” demonstrates how individual images are set in motion. Visitors are invited to create 2D or 3D animated film sequences using a selection of figures, props and backgrounds.
The depiction of letters in 0s and 1s is explained by means of wooden rods, while additions can be performed on a binary calculator. By filling a chest of drawers with coloured cubes, visitors can learn how computers save and access information.
Another topic addressed is that of message encryption. Anyone who fancies dispatching a secret message can send one through the exhibition via pneumatic post. It can be intercepted, though, so has to be encrypted beforehand.
Fish that have been coloured in by visitors can be “brought to life” on a big screen, swimming around in an animated 3D aquarium and moving in response to gestures.
Visitors are invited to tackle a wide range of puzzles and games at numerous games tables, with space for up to 80 people at a time to enjoy interactive pursuits at the exhibition.
The adapted space module from the “Hello Universe!” exhibition brings proceedings to a close. “Play in Space” is the name given to a children’s playground featuring popular games that do not involve the use of a screen.
Adults: 5 euros
Discount: 3 euros
Family ticket: 10 euros
Groups of 10 and more: 3 euros
Groups of 10 and more discount: 2 euros
Combination ticket with the permanent exhibition:
Adults: 10 euros
Discount: 6 euros
Family ticket: 20 euros
Groups of 10 and more: 6 euros
Groups of 10 and more discount: 4 euros
Return ticket: Combination tickets (except for group tickets) authorise the holder to visit the permanent exhibition a second time within 12 months of the original visit.
Groups from general-education and vocational schools, universities, universities of applied sciences, kindergartens and day-care centres are admitted free of charge by prior arrangement. Please phone +49 (0)5251-306-660 or service(at)hnf.de.
Exhibition area: Third floor of the HNF
Exhibition space: 800 square metres
All texts, videos and multimedia applications will be in German and English.
"Paper airplanes and Twister" is an exhibition for children aged nine and upwards, families and adults. The exhibition is not suitable for children under the age of three, as small objects could be swallowed.