Imagine harp music floating through the air, projections of pathways and of musical notes, and a vaporizer emitting a light spray of plant nutrient.
You might think you’ve stumbled down a hole into the world of Alice in Wonderland, but this is actually a scene from the Thomas Peterson '57 Gallery at the MIT Museum, where MIT student inventions are on display for the summer and fall as part of an exhibition called "Inventions: 2014 Student Showcase." MIT Museum staff chose projects, from a range of submissions, that seemed both interesting and capable of withstanding the tens of thousands of visitors expected in the coming months.
Eleven inventions are on display, in addition to an exhibition of kinetic sculptures created by students in a class taught by MIT Museum Director John Durant, along with Museum staffers and Museum Lab co-directors Allan Doyle and Seth Riskin.
For inspiration, some students looked to nature, yielding a tree that rustles and emits sounds of nature. For others, inspiration came from childhood: It was a love of gardening with her mother that led Jennifer Broutin Farah to develop SproutsIO, now a startup in Cambridge that is intended to encourage indoor gardening for an increasingly urban world. The company's no-soil growing environment shows visitors how one idea can lead to another — and then lead to potential commercial applications that solve real-world problems.
“Learning about current research in so many different fields has been fascinating,” says Alexander Goldowsky, the MIT Museum's director of exhibitions. “We’ve had a lot of fun meeting students, and hope that visitors will enjoy learning about some of their great ideas.”