In 2016, the Center for Applied Plant Sciences (CAPS) partnered with COSI in the development of a grant proposal requesting support from The Columbus Foundation Green Funds for the development of new plant-themed signage to be incorporated in various exhibits throughout COSI. The proposal, which was funded, sought to raise awareness about the important role plants play in our daily lives by highlighting plants from various perspectives including energy, environment, health, food and materials. The first step in the project was to identify suitable areas throughout the science center where plant-themed signage would be a good fit. To do this, CAPS enlisted PhD Fellows from the Translational Plant Sciences (TPS) graduate program to visit COSI and view the exhibits with plants in mind. The Fellows then submitted their suggestions for locations and content for the new plant signs. Using the feedback from the TPS Fellows as a guide, CAPS faculty and staff fine-tuned the suggestions and submitted them to COSI’s design team.
Ultimately, five locations were selected for new signage. This included four exhibits (Lily Pad, Gadgets, Life and Space) as well as the Atomic Café. The signs, branded as Plant Wise, fit the theme of each area and share interesting facts about plants. In Lily Pad, and exhibit focused on watersheds, the Plant Wise signage highlights how plants help watersheds by capturing pollutants, protecting from erosion, slowing water flow and regulating water temperature. In Gadgets, the Plant Wise sign features three types of seeds that have “flying structures”, and challenges visitors to use them as inspiration in the creation of their own flying machine at a nearby Creation Station. In Life, the role of plants in the development of medicine showcased, while in Space guests learn about how NASA grows plants on the International Space Station. Perhaps the most visually striking of all the new signs are the ones installed in the Atomic Café. There, ten large color images of food producing plants are displayed with a challenge to guess the food each plant produces. From cashews to cloves, and artichokes to asparagus, guests test their knowledge of the foods they eat.
This project is just one example of how CAPS and other plant science units at The Ohio State University, such as the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center and the TPS graduate program, partner with COSI. We are thankful for the opportunity to bring our plant science expertise to the general public through COSI’s programs and exhibits. We are especially thankful to The Columbus Foundation’s Green Funds for their support of this project.