SportsZone, a permanent exhibition at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, combines cutting-edge artistic design and innovative media with full-body immersive experiences and augmented reality to show how science and technology can enhance athletic potential.
SportsZone is a 3,600 square-foot permanent exhibition at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, dedicated to revealing how science, technology and engineering can maximize performance potential in sports. Opened in October 2015, the state-of-the-art exhibition shines a spotlight on the science and precision of sport by combining full-body interactive experiences and augmented reality with sophisticated new media and artistic design.
SportsZone was developed by The Franklin Institute's award-winning scientists and designers as a replacement for the popular Sports Challenge exhibit, which had engaged visitors with a fun mix of science, technology, entertainment, interactive challenges, virtual games, sports trivia and celebrity memorabilia for 15 years. The new permanent exhibit explores the connection between the science of the human body, laws of motion and new technologies to demonstrate the role these play in sports. It invites visitors to learn more about fitness, nutrition, safety and exercise equipment, teaching them how to prepare their body before testing their skills in various immersive games that challenge them to run, jump, pitch and surf.
The exhibition is designed around the theme Ready? Set. Go! and employs the immersive atmosphere of indoor and outdoor sports facilities, with each area illustrating the connection between science, technology and performance in sports.
SportsZone's centerpiece, Athletes Run, is a 40-foot long interactive race challenge that lets visitors find out how they compare to any of the well-known athletes who personally participated in the filming of the experience. Visitors can choose from a number of virtual competitors, among them inline speed skater Brian Talley, Paralympic medalists Richard Browne and Tatyana McFadden, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, and marathon runner Dawn Grunnagle.
SportsZone features a total of 21 interactive experiences and each of these focuses on a different scientific principle that is critical to the sport at hand. The interactive areas allow visitors to compete with others or work to improve their own performance. Visitors can also learn how to balance their daily energy needs based on their physiology and activity level and which fluids to drink before, during and after exercise. Different areas of the exhibition space allow them to use slow-motion video to analyze their pitching technique and improve it, explore their bones and ligaments in action, train their reaction time, find their best surfing stance, and improve their performance in a number of other sports.
The immersive areas also let visitors experience the effect of momentum and timing on the height of their vertical jump, discover how innovative materials and designs make balls bounce differently and make bikes more efficient, and see for themselves how shaped skis offer greater control on a curved path.
A leader in science and technology learning, The Franklin Institute is dedicated to inspiring passion to learn about science by offering hands-on education in a number of scientific fields. Founded in honour of Benjamin Franklin in 1824, The Franklin Institute is the most visited museum in Pennsylvania and one of the oldest and most renowned centres of science education and development in the United States. It has played a key role in meeting the country's educational needs in the fields of science and technology and evolved to provide people with learning resources through a varied range of classroom activities, workshops in community centres and libraries, and online. The institute is dedicated to making educational resources available to as many people as possible. Today, it offers 12 permanent exhibits that introduce key science concepts in creative and innovative ways.
SportsZone is located on the 3rd floor of The Franklin Institute building. The exhibition is free with general admission tickets for the museum, which is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.