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  • Writer's pictureSTEAMatWORK4KIDS

Their Team Makes Learning Fun

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

Meet Hugh McDonald

Executive Producer, Ideum

Meet Becky Hansis-O'Neill

Director of Creative Services, Ideum

This project: Working with programmers, artists, and others to make interactive exhibits

If you want to learn about penguins you could . . .

a) Watch penguins at a zoo.

b) Read a book or watch a movie about penguins in the wild.

c) Use your body to swim like a penguin in an interactive computer exhibit.

d) All of the above.

What would you choose? I’m lucky. I get to choose “All of the above.” The zoo in my city has interactive computer exhibits built by Ideum. That’s the company where Hugh McDonald and Becky Hansis-O’Neill work with their team of 40 people. Together, they design and build exhibits that are so fun, you want to learn more.

Technology is a big part of what they do. But Hugh says that the most important part of his job is to find the spark. What will energize people to want to learn more? His proudest moments are watching people use Ideum exhibits.

"We use computers to build fun exhibits and experiences." --Hugh McDonald

Becky says the best part of the job is solving bizarre problems. “What exactly does the inside of a beehive look like? How can a little kid and a tall parent use the same exhibit?” Becky doesn’t let the fact that she has dyslexia stop her. She uses computer skills to check her writing. Her team members help her double check too.

When Ideum designs an exhibit, their first idea is usually not the best idea. But when the team puts their heads together, their design gets better and better. Hugh says that every single day he learns something new from somebody on their team.

The people on their team have many different skills. Here are some of the jobs they do.

· Exhibit designer

· User interface designer

· Project manager

· Content specialist

· Computer programmer

· Animator

· 3d modeler

· Creative technologist

· Electronics specialist

· Industrial designer

· Fabricator (builds stuff)

· Sculptors (builds the background)

· Woodworkers (builds cabinets for the tech)

· Grant writer

· Videographer / photographer

· Data Analyst

Hugh and Becky have this advice for you if you want to build interactive active computer exhibits. Start learning about everything. Go to museums. Go outside. Try to make things. See what happens. Learn from mistakes. If you see something you really like, ask about it. People who build things love to talk about how they did it. They’ll tell you about the spark that energized them. That same spark might just energize you too.

Read these books to make cool projects . . .


by Jack Challoner

Supporting STEAM education initiatives and the Maker Movement, the National Parenting Publication Award-winner Maker Lab includes 28 kid-safe projects and crafts that will get young inventors' wheels turning and make science pure fun.

Each step-by-step activity is appropriate for kids ages 8–12, and ranked easy, medium, or hard, with an estimated time frame for completion. Requiring only household materials, young makers can build an exploding volcano, race balloon rocket cars, construct a lemon battery, make sticky slime, and more. Photographs and facts carefully detail the "why" and "how" of each experiment using real-world examples to provide context so kids can gain a deeper understanding of the scientific principles applied. With a foreword by Jack Andraka, a teen award-winning inventor, Maker Lab will help kids find their inner inventor and create winning projects for school projects, science fairs, and beyond.

Visit Jack Challoner’s website or Amazon author page to see more of his books.


Each science activity has a clear how it works explanation, revealing the fascinating science behind the experiments, along with real-world examples. The best way to learn is to have fun. This easy to read and understand book about science contains facts and experiments suitable for young aspiring scientists.

Learn The Science Behind Every Experiment Maker Lab Outdoors takes you on a step-by-step guide on how to do sensational science experiments like creating enormous bubbles, explore freeze-thaw action and constructing a compass using everyday materials in the great outdoors. This book will inspire you to start conducting your own experiments and exploring the principles of science. Maker Lab Outdoors explores the science of: - Earth and Sky - Water Power - Nature Watch - World of Weather - Space - And more


. . . and visit these websites to make

more fun projects.


Science buddies has fun makerspace projects you can do.

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