Rose-Hulman Ventures Puts Children’s Museum Exhibit Back in the Race

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
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Children were off to the races while enjoying the upgraded Run With the Animals exhibit at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum. The STEM education project was completed by student interns and managers from Rose-Hulman Ventures.

Technological advances by Rose-Hulman Ventures’ student interns and project managers have the Terre Haute Children’s Museum’s beloved Run With the Animals exhibit back on track, literally, as children have fun with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through challenges to out-run a variety of animals. 

The improved exhibit reopened November 11 with community leaders joining museum and Rose-Hulman Ventures officials at a ribbon-cutting event.

Upgrades to the exhibit include brighter light-emitting diodes illuminating a runway that simulates the animal races; improved computer, control screen and monitor systems; updated software; and a fresh coat of paint – all completed this past summer and fall by interns Trilokshan Vinayagamoorthy and Jesus Capo supervised by project manager Jonathan Labayo.

The advances will once again allow visiting children to pick one of more than 80 animals and see if they can outrun it on the track. A hawk is the fastest at 107 miles per hour while the Cheetah is one of the more popular challenges, at 70 mph. Also available are a lion, bear, horse, penguin, and even varieties of fish.

“The kids are all about racing cheetahs and lions … They want to go fast,” says Children’s Museum Executive Director Susan Turner. “It’s one of our most beloved exhibits.”

Rose-Hulman’s association with the exhibit goes back to its original concept as a senior-year student project on campus nearly 15 years ago. Rose-Hulman Ventures, a division of Rose-Human with highly experienced and skills engineers and designers, then helped complete the project to help showcase STEM to the thousands of children who annually visit the local children’s museum. Features have been added to the exhibit throughout the years, including increasing the number of animals that can be selected to race.

Vinayagamoorthy, a junior computer engineering major, designed the upgraded computer hardware system that added more animals to the challenges, while Capo, a senior engineering design student, assisted with rebuilding the track with its enhanced graphics and high-tech applications.

“Everything was custom built for this exhibit so that it could fit the needs of the museum. We also had to make sure everything could withstand the heavy demands while kids are playing with it. We wanted it to withstand another 15 years,” said Vinayagamoorthy.

Rose-Hulman Ventures Senior Director Brian Dougherty states that Rose-Hulman encourages students to participate in community projects that teach that STEM areas are fun.

“It’s very important for our students to be changing and improving the world they’re in,” he says. “The world has a lot of problems. Engineers are problem-solvers. They need to go out and figure out how to make the world a better place.”

Dougherty also hopes the museum exhibit inspires future engineers. 

“The children’s museum is vital in providing a playing field for STEM,” he says. “The children who are racing a cheetah, lion or bear today might become the engineers of the future.”

A new educational feature of the exhibit will have children being presented a map of the world’s continents and information about where the animals they have just raced live, eat and play.

Learn about other Rose-Hulman Ventures’ projects here