Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

No such thing as a failed experiment - What we learned from our trip to the Science Museum in London

Published by Christine

Flybrid F1 KERS device at the London Science Museum

The Sidepodscience meetup was actually less scientific and more of a picnic than we'd initially intended. The Science Museum exhibit was really, really poor. No doubt we will be regaling you with tales of how the day went, plus pictures, and endless stories of how drunk Mr C really was, but I wanted to share an initial reaction to what we saw yesterday. I've come up with a five point plan for the Science Museum to get their act together.

  • Know your target audience. Clearly, we were a unique set of visitors to the science museum that day. A group of twenty or so hardcore F1 fans that dedicate a disproportionate amount of their spare time to discussing the sport we love. I'm pretty sure this exhibit wasn't actually aimed at us. However, it wasn't clear who it was aimed at. There weren't enough details for the really scientific, there certainly wasn't enough action/movement/colour for children, there wasn't enough relation to sports for fans, and it was much too easy to bypass the exhibit if you're the general public. You can get a lot more out of something if you know who it's aimed at, even if it's not your target group. We could have analysed how well the display was working if we knew exactly what was supposed to be got out of it.
  • Improve the lighting. It was very dark in there, and although I could see the plan was to be rather minimalistic and arty, white and black is so boring. Especially when there's a lot of white, and it's all just tucked away in a dusty corner of the museum. Photography was difficult, reading the placards wasn't much easier, and the touch screen displays burned our eyes after only a few moments.
  • Keep the F1 stuff together. One step inside the museum, and you're confronted with an upside down McLaren hanging from the roof. Up the stairs and along the corridor is an F1 themed exhibit. Down the stairs and through two other halls there's a McLaren as beaten about by Mika Hakkinen. Clearly the new display wasn't directly related to the existing cars, but to bring the Formula 1 goodness together might have been helpful.
  • Be a little less vague. I really like the idea behind the collection of goods that we saw, but there really wasn't enough to make it worthwhile. Even saying that, the museum appeared to be struggling for tenuous links. A fishing rod that has grooves like rubber tyres. There's a big pod that the drivers use to relax in. Some rubber boots... At this rate, you could relate anything to F1 and get away with it. Here's a panda which is black and white, a little bit like the McLaren. Hooray!
  • Sort out the security. Lukeh sums this up in his post: SERIOUS SECURITY GUARD IS SERIOUS. The display had some kind of random alarm going off when you crossed invisible beams, despite the fact that everything was behind glass and not even slightly roped off. You step too close to a podium, the alarm beeps, the man comes running to shout that you are too close. Then why let us get that close in the first place? It was weird, and very off-putting.

This isn't meant to be a post full of whines, because really, it is fabulous that F1 is getting into places such as the Science Museum. I just think the exhibit could have been so much more, and reached a much wider audience. There was very little to say that McLaren were particularly involved, except the two McLarens, and they could have made it a much better marketing exercise, whilst informing new and existing fans just how influential F1 can be.