IBM’s THINK App: Explore How Progress Happens

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IBM ThinkIn honor of its 100th anniversary in 2011, IBM staged a pop-up exhibition at New York City’s Lincoln Center that focused on the evolution of technology and invention. The THINK installation featured an immersive film that used a kaleidoscope of images, sound and narration to explore humankind’s quest for progress. At the film’s end, the screen transformed to 40 interactive touchscreen panels that allowed visitors to learn more about a particular area of innovation. The pop-up exhibit also included a 123-foot data wall that dynamically displayed the interactions of complex systems in the surrounding area, from traffic on the streets outside to air quality and solar energy.

The goal of THINK was to demonstrate how scientific progress is enabled by a systematic approach that includes observation (“seeing”), data organization (“mapping”), data modeling (“understanding”), theoretical conviction (“believing”) and sustained effort (“acting”). Approaching the history of science and technology using this framework provides a clearer understanding of how the power of the human mind has been used to make the world safer, more sustainable and more livable.

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Now IBM is sharing the award-winning THINK experience with the world outside New York City in the form of a free app for iPad and Android tablets. The IBM THINK Exhibit app is organized around the five steps of their approach (seeing, mapping, understanding, believing and acting). It presents an interactive timeline of scientific advances that includes game-changers like the telescope and airplane, as well minor players like the metal detector. Topics are illustrated with thousands of photos, drawings, graphics and video clips. Historical anecdotes bring the history of scientific progress to life, including interviews with leaders of world-changing initiatives who explain how belief in a new concept is built.

The THINK app also includes a 10-minute HD video that charts the pattern of human progress with footage shot in the United States, China, Russia, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Turkey. An innovative camera rig was used to capture images from three camera angles simultaneously. In place of the exhibit’s data wall, the app shows how maps have been used throughout history to track data, from ancient geographic charts to today’s sophisticated data visualizations.

Like the pop-up exhibit, the THINK app is important from an educational perspective because it presents the evolution of science and technology in terms of a systematic approach. In addition to bringing the history of discover to life, the app provides a positive and inspirational message about the future. Teachers can use the app as the basis for lesson plans, classroom discussions or student projects.

According to Lee Green, VP of Brand Experience and Strategic Design at IBM, the THINK app is an “innovation time machine” designed for people of all ages who have a passion for history, science and technology. The app is also a great tool for instilling this passion in children and teenagers. Learning that innovation follows a repeatable pattern is an important lesson for the next generation of scientists, technologists and inventors. The IBM Think Exhibit app can be downloaded for free from iTunes and Google Play.

This is a guest post from Mandy Fricke.

Mandy Fricke is the community manager for Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Nursing@Georgetown, a Master in Nursing program, as well as a contributor to the Nursing License Map. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and yoga.

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