Last year Draper had the privilege to work on a really cool and interesting project; one where one of our screens was part of a museum exhibit where people build synthetic organisms. One thing we learned is how complex the field of synthetic biology is. But we also watched as the project made it easier to understand, and a Draper projection screen is at the center of the project. Our screen helps build synthetic organisms!

Following is a case study about the project. Once you read it, I think you’ll be just as impressed as we are, not only by the screen, but the entire exhibit.

Draper is helping a San Jose museum teach people about synthetic biology. Synthetic biology takes in disciplines including biotechnology, genetic engineering, evolutionary biology, molecular engineering, computer engineering. The Tech Museum in San Jose, California built an interactive Bio Design Studio to explore the basic concepts of this complex—and sometimes controversial—field of science. It was also a tricky topic to address from a design perspective.

“Most science museums tackle these subjects by imparting information or demonstrating phenomena, but we really wanted visitors to think, create, and test their ideas in ways they could do nowhere else,” according to Romie Littrell, Curator and Exhibit Developer at the Tech Museum of Innovation. “Recent advances in bioengineering has made this type of ‘biodesigner’ a valuable and necessary role in the new and growing bioeconomy, which resonated with our mission of inspiring future problem solvers.”

One of the exhibits in the Bio Design Studio is the Creature Creation Station. Here visitors use “DNA”—flexible building blocks—to create new organisms, much as what would happen in an actual lab. Once they’ve finished, visitors release their creations in an ecosystem which includes everyone else’s creations. They can then watch as survival of the fittest plays out on a huge curved projection screen.

That’s where Draper comes in. A curved screen is double sided and serves two functions.

“From the outside we wanted to create an aquarium-like feel, reminiscent of real living creatures, enhanced by the fluid-like flow of the visuals,” Littrell points out. “By walking around and seeing the inside, it’s revealed that all the creatures in the aquarium are created by visitors, and it becomes an interactive space where they can become immersed in the unique scale and possibilities of the exhibit. This is particularly important because biology behaves differently than the more familiar mechanical and even robotic objects we see every day.”

To read the rest of this case study, click here to download a free PDF. There is no registration required.