Museum Spotlight: Experiential Learning Center (ELC)
The Experiential Learning Center (ELC), sponsored by Lockheed Martin, will be a premier feature of the National Museum of the United States Army. Located off the Museum’s Main Lobby, the ELC will provide an interactive educational experience focused on geography, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (GSTEM) for school-aged visitors as well as adults. One of the main features of the ELC will be the Training Center, which houses the five GSTEM Training exercises and their supporting interactives. Together, these exercises provide the tools and information for visitors to complete the simulated rescue mission: Operation Safe Passage.
The Geography activity, which takes place in a themed intelligence area, will allow visitors to use one of two touchscreen monitors to work through a series of tasks based on map use. A large screen in the center of the area introduces visitors to an interactive cartogram in non-timed situations.
The Science activity takes place in a structure inspired by an environmentally controlled Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH) tent. The lessons inside teach how Army scientists identify and control diseases. To supplement the experience, visitors will learn about the diseases Army scientists have confronted and see videos of them as if seen through video-microscopes.
The Technology area is designed around an Army Satellite Communications (SatCom) truck. Interactive touchscreens on both sides of the vehicle house the Training Exercise where visitors use a virtual Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and the geothermal spectrum to find lost objects. A model of the UAV hangs from the overhead grid nearby. Using joystick controls and the monitor at the back of the truck, visitors work the functional UAV’s camera for the supporting “seek-and-find” exercise.
The Engineering activity takes place on one touchscreen monitor that is also seen on the large screen and two flanking touchscreens that house the structural integrity interactive. These kiosks are themed to look like Army boats that engineers use to maneuver bridge pontoons into place.
The Math activity takes place inside a themed version of a Chinook helicopter and shows visitors how to make logistical and mathematical decisions to provide supply drops from a virtual helicopter on the interactive touchscreens. A secondary screen allows visitors to make similar calculations and watch them play out in a bird’s-eye view on a floor-mounted monitor.
The Learning Lab will be a multipurpose room where student groups gather before or after their time in the Training Center for a guided, 30-40 minute experience called Operation: Safe Passage. The ELC Educational Program, though focused on visitors PreK-12 Grade, provides GSTEM-oriented curriculum that complements every visitor’s educational level. By using the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC’s) Go/No-Go philosophy and terminology, the ELC Training Exercises and Operation: Safe Passage prompt visitors to think like a Soldier and make educated decisions based on the various situations. Merging formal and informal learning through hands-on experience, the ELC provides a unique learning atmosphere for children and adults alike.