Mission to STEM is an interactive app which weaves historically significant NASA artifacts together in a single mission. The app uses augmented reality, virtual reality, video production, and interactive game design to involve visitors in meaningful interactions with gallery artifacts .
The Mission to STEM app brings the museum's Apollo space capsule to life with 360° panoramas. Visitors examine parts of the capsule which are typically inaccessible to the public while completing a mission-critical task.
Visitors use augmented reality to "find" a rover tucked inside a gigantic and historically significant artifact: the Mars Airbag Landing System. An identical set of airbags cushioned the fall of the Pathfinder rover and allowed it to land safely on Mars.
Sensor Zone invites visitors to explore sensors of all kinds - pressure sensors under foot, light sensors in walls, and distance sensors overhead - to trigger light, sound, and motion in whimsical and real-world settings.
The Sensor Maze challenges visitors to explore sensors along a winding path through the museum by trying to make it through the maze without tripping any sensors or by deliberately finding and setting off all of the hidden sensors. Stoplights change from red to green and back again, sound effects blare, and lights flash as children navigate the maze.
Sensors embedded in furniture and hidden under the rug transform a living space into a whimsical form of home automation. Children trigger music and lights, and even cause a disco ball to spin, simply by moving about the room. Spontaneous dancing is a frequent occurrence in this wacky, high-tech clubhouse.
Hellenga Projects was awarded Patent #9,782,686 for a "kit for electrifying a system of bricks in a brick building system." This "Brickvolt" system can transform LEGO baseplates into functional circuit boards and breadboards. It enables the creation of quick-connect circuit blocks for the classroom and offers more durability than wiring kits sold for use in lighting up LEGO creations.
Electrical components can be attached to - or embedded in - an assembly of bricks without soldering and without wires. The clutch power of LEGO is sufficient to make a good electrical connection. Bricks press the conductive tape against the electrical contacts.
The storytelling power of LEGO gives children a compelling reason to master circuit layout as they build original LEGO creations with hidden electrical paths and connections.
Principal – (1/12 to present )
Perform strategic planning, conceptual development, fundraising, and project management for clients pursuing new construction, building renovation, or major exhibition initiatives. Manage in-house teams and external vendors to deliver compelling learning experiences which engage audiences, attract funding, and drive attendance. Assist museum associations to communicate best practices in informal learning. Selected Client Projects:
Strategic planning and fundraising
Discovery Museum – Acton, MA
Developed fundraising strategy for several projects in the museum’s master plan. Won four consecutive IMLS grants totaling $500K for topics including math anxiety/math learning, early brain development, and inclusion.
The Works – Bloomington, MN
Researched recommendations for the museum’s strategic plan. Outlined key trends in engineering education, technology innovation and museum visitor demographics. Mentored team in development of Sensor Zone exhibit.
Research on best practices in the field of informal learning
Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education – Washington, D.C.
Managed team of senior museum professionals to produce The Principal Investigator's Guide: Managing Evaluation in Informal STEM Education in the form of an interactive online guide.
Association of Science-Technology Centers –Washington, D.C.
Conducted practitioner interviews and reviewed academic research to produce articles for informalscience.org on topics including makerspace learning and informal science education networks and partnerships.
Association of Children’s Museums – Washington, D.C.
Reviewed best practices in inclusive design for the Advancing Accessibility in Museums project. Established a rubric categorizing inclusive design initiatives and selected museums with notable practices.
Great Lakes Science Center – Cleveland, OH
Oversaw Mission to STEM project. Led multimedia vendors and in-house staff in development and production of mobile app which brought NASA artifacts to life. Wrote initial project description for successful $1M NASA grant.
DuPage Children’s Museum – Naperville, IL
Collaborated with DCM to procure funding from the Maker Ed Foundation. Developed materials and curriculum for Teknistas summer camp. Designed light-up backpack projects and beta-tested activities during one-week camp.