Fonterra Science Roadshow

Careers exhibit for the Fonterra Science Roadshow, operated by the National Science-Technology Roadshow Trust

The careers exhibit was borne from an idea to encourage school students visiting the Science Roadshow to think about careers in science. With support from Careers New Zealand, the Roadshow Trust set about developing an interactive exhibit for visiting school students. The Science Roadshow is a national touring programme that visits many communities each year, hosted in school halls in each town.

RFID technology quickly became the technology of choice for engaging students in the careers quiz. It enabled us to develop a distributed exhibit throughout the hall space. Students must register at the registration station to participate in the activity. Each participating student is issued with a pouch very similar to a conference pouch. It has a lanyard so that it can be placed around their neck and includes a very robust reusable RFID tag. Once the students have registered, the system will assign a job to their tag. Students must visit the other three workstations around the hall where they will be issued clues about the assigned job. Upon the first interaction with the system prior to receiving their first clue, students are able to assign a custom background, which will appear each time they are scanned at a workstation. Further development will enable students to receive email about the assigned job and their personal experience.

The key attributes of the system is that it is highly mobile and robust as it operates in 2-3 different locations every week. The computers operate on a high-speed wireless network communicating via a small server. The majority of the software development was carried out in-house, allowing for modification or the development of new exhibits to be applied to the existing equipment. The key components include four HP Touch-smart computers with Caen RFID readers and Omni-Id tags supplied by Pocket Solutions. Pocket Solutions also assisted with some specialised plugin development to aid our software development. The advice and support provided by Pocket solutions during the testing and development period has been excellent. Given the mobile nature of the equipment and the high throughput of curious students, the reliability has been impressive.

Dave McLeod  – The Roadshow

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