Water and Our World is a unique interactive exhibit about the role all citizens have in sustaining one of our most precious resources. Visitors are engrossed in an informal learning experience focusing on how the city of Halifax sources, treats, distributes, collects, retreats and disposes of water. It examines the water cycle, promotes efficiency and reveals how to save money.
This engaging exhibit allows guests to measure their household water usage and compare their results against energy-efficient alternatives. Visitors use hand pumps to move water into columns to measure their household water consumption for activities such as doing the dishes, taking a shower, doing laundry and washing the car. The water is then released and passes through a series of flow meters which display the total amount of water used on a digital readout in both liters and dollars.
Deliberately, two scales are represented: traditional appliances and modern, water-efficient alternatives to encourage repeat visitation and extend the interactive experience. Guests first move through the exhibit in reflection of their own household's consumption habits. They may then repeat the exercise as if they used efficient options; giving them immediate feedback about how much they could conserve on a daily basis. An interactive touchscreen quiz at the end of the exhibit measures learning outcomes.
Visual representation of Halifax's watersheds, treatment and re-treatment facilities is also provided. Part of the exercise is to create rain, and as water is used in the home, the water supply decreases, covertly outlining the fundamentals of the water cycle.
The micro-gallery housing the exhibit has been custom designed and retrofitted to immerse visitors in an underwater experience using paint treatments and murals, sound effects and stunning visual effects such as a pair of 14-foot tall bubble walls which frame the exhibit's entrance and draw attention from other areas of the facility.
The exhibit is accompanied by an outreach program across the Atlantic Provinces and has been developed with Discovery Centre's Education Department to make valuable and clear curriculum connections.
Design challenges were plentiful and included regional relevance, containment of water in an unplumbed gallery, treatment of source water, cleaning of exhibit components, robustness/abuse tolerance, cost, production timeline and environmental impacts.