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App Helps Visitors Explore Academy of Natural Sciences

August 15, 2013

The interactive ANS Explore! app guides visitors through the museum on an educational scavenger hunt.

Visitors at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University can now explore the museum right on their smartphone through a new interactive app called “ANS Explore!” The app, which was designed by students in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, takes visitors on a scavenger hunt, of sorts, where they can collect virtual badges and unlock educational facts while wandering the museum.

The app’s interactive map guides visitors on a search for hidden QR codes throughout the museum’s four floors of exhibits –which currently include dinosaur skeletons, a tropical garden with live butterflies and other live animals. Players can earn badges by scanning the QR codes to unlock additional information about the exhibits.

“The new app enhances visitors experience by providing a fun, interactive game that the whole family can enjoy,” said George Gephart, president and CEO of the Academy.

According to developer Daniel Barboni, an undergraduate in Drexel’s Digital Media program, the team designed the app so that it can be updated and adjusted as the exhibits change. The current theme of the scavenger hunt is “capturing escaped butterflies,” which is in correlation with the Academy’s butterfly exhibit.

“The goal is to get kids and parents to explore more of the Academy and learn things they might not have known,” Barboni said. “It could help improve visitors’ experiences by dispensing further information about nearby exhibits and giving kids and parents an incentive to see more of the Academy. I think it really helps children stay immersed in the Academy experience.”

The app also features coloring pages, which are unlocked when the player earns enough badges by “catching” butterflies and avoiding bees while exploring the museum.

The inspiration for creating the app came after the Westphal students, Barboni, Darielle Brown-Davis, Jordan Stewart and Kanv Narain, got an eye-opening look at the wonders of the Academy.

“After going on a behind-the-scenes tour at the Academy we realized that there is a lot of fascinating information about each exhibit that you might not get to learn just by reading the signs and plaques,” Barboni said.

ANS Explore! is available for Android and iOS operating systems and can be downloaded at the AppStore or GooglePlay. Download this free app today and come try it out on your next visit to the Academy.


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