[Bill Porter] repairs a science museum exhibit

For those who are unfamiliar, “Freeze Frame” is the name of a common display in science museums. It is a small dark room with a single wall covered in phosphorescent material. Opposite of this wall is a flash on a timer. You enter the room, strike a pose and wait for the flash, then view your shadow preserved on the wall behind you.

[Bill] was saddened to see the display at his local science museum had been decommissioned long ago. All that was left was a dark room with a phosphorescent coated wall. Some industrious employees had rigged up some LED pens for people to “draw with light”, but in [Bill's] opinion this wasn’t as impressive.  He promptly volunteered to rebuild the display himself and we commend him, both on the fantastic job he did as well as his service to his local community. Great job [Bill], keep up the good work.

Comments

  1. barryronaldo says:

    Bill as usual does a great job getting this thing patched up for a new generation of learners :) Keep up the good work, sir!
    As a side note, I haven’t seen one of these in years and think that kids would really get a lot out of it since they love the “step on the square” LCD projector things at the mall. I really hope these make a comeback :)

  2. rskuroi says:

    The MOST in Syracuse, NY had one of these, it was one of my favorite installations (along with the ELIZA computer and Lunar Lander arcade machine). That was 12 or 14 years ago though, so I doubt it’s still there. Moved out of state not long after the IMAX theater was built.

  3. Haku says:

    I remember seing one these at a museum many years ago as a kid, but instead of a fixed flash with a timer, the flash was hand held on a long wire so you could get several interesting ‘layers’ along the wall.

    • Bill says:

      That may be similar to how this used to work. There was no holes anywhere where a button may have been, so I couldn’t figure out how it used to work. The current staff at the museum were not around during the time the original exhibit was in operation.

      I forgot to mention I left the light pens in tact, so after you have you silhouette on the wall you can add features to it as well!

      • kev says:

        I’m pretty sure UV light makes a bright phosphorescent surface got dark (i.e. it does the opposite of a regular light source), it might be a good idea for a new kind of light pens :p

  4. oddjobzombie says:

    I used to love these rooms as a kid and this is a great rebuild.

    The only thing I can’t really figure out is what this teaches. It always seemed weird that they’d have these in museums.

    • Bill says:

      This exhibit teaches the principles of light and energy. There was signage about how light is energy and that’s captured by the paper and that’s why it glows. Your body blocks light and those areas don’t have energy captured and don’t glow.

      Everything at a museum either teaches a clear principle or at the very least demonstrates something in science that sparks interest in youth to ask why what they see is happening.

  5. We had one of these at the centre where I work. We recently decommissioned it to make room for a new exhibit. We had problems with teenagers making out in this room.

    We kept the phosphorescent wall panel and we set it up from time to time for special events.

    As oddjobzombie said it doesn’t really teach anything as the shadow freezing exhibit.

    • Bill says:

      It’s a shame your center didn’t find it effective. Everyone involved with this center are thrilled to have it back as it was one of the more popular exhibits. It’s located near the flow of museum patrons, so I guess that explains why they don’t have the teenager problem. Not much privacy.

      I I certainly disagree about it not teaching anything. See my comment above. Even in my education outreach program (see http://hackaday.com/2011/06/06/million-volt-guitar-rocks-the-house-for-science/ ) we have a segment about how light is energy and demonstrate chemicals that glow.

  6. dubyaohohdee says:

    Anyone know of a cheap DIY method for building such a wall?

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