Museum of the North Presents Power Play: Fueling Alaska’s Future

The Museum of the North presents Power Play: Fueling Alaska’s Future an exhibition on view through January 3, 2012. The exhibit looks at the balance of energy in Alaska.

University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks, Alaska, United States by Joan Soranno

“This exhibit asks how we use available resources here in Alaska and how we can keep them cost effective,” said museum director Carol Diebel. “It also explores the lessons we’ve learned and how our solutions might be exported to other places.”

Using interactive games created specifically for the exhibit, Power Play challenges visitors to think about that balance between energy needs and supplies. In the city engine game, guests power a model city with marbles that produce light and sound, while the wind station lets users adjust a wind turbine and test performance. At the geothermal station, visitors run a simulated geothermal power plant, and a digital game, designed along with exhibit sponsor Golden Valley Electric Association, lets visitors choose how they would control the cost of energy.

About the Museum

The University of Alaska Museum of the North is a thriving visitor attraction, a vital component of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the only research and teaching museum in Alaska.

The museum’s research collections – 1.4 million artifacts and specimens – represent millions of years of biological diversity and thousands of years of cultural traditions in the North. The collections are organized into 10 disciplines (archaeology, birds, documentary film, earth sciences, ethnology/history, fine arts, fishes/marine invertebrates, insects, mammals, and plants) and serve as a valuable resource for research on climate change, genetics, contaminants and other issues facing Alaska and the circumpolar North. The museum is also the premier repository for artifacts and specimens collected on public lands in Alaska and a leader in northern natural and cultural history research.

The exhibit was developed in partnership with the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Director Gwen Holdmann said the project was a good way to share what the organization has learned with museum visitors.

“Alaska is cut off from the rest of the world,” she said. “We have rural communities with isolated electric distribution networks. Even our rail belt is a fairly small system. That creates some challenges for us to integrate renewables with fossil fuels, but it’s similar to what people are starting to see in the Lower 48. What we can develop here could have a role in how other places use energy.”

Other components of the exhibit include maps illustrating the disparity of energy costs across the state and how resources vary by location. Fuel facts interpreted throughout the display will broaden how visitors view Alaska’s energy picture. The museum expects more than 70,000 visitors of all ages to experience the exhibit.

University of Alaska Museum of the North
PO Box 756960
907 Yukon Drive Fairbanks, AK 99775
phone: 907.474.7505
email: [email protected]

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