Monday, February 20, 2012

Game Shows!

On a recent trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium I attended their auditorium program "You Otter Know". My assumption was that it would be a movie or maybe a presentation by the education staff, as you can probably guess from the title of this post I was wrong.

When I got into the auditorium a few minutes before the program started they had a large photo of an ocean sunfish projected on the screen with a question about how many eggs a female sunfish can lay (as many as 300 million, if you're curious). Then there were 4 possible answers in the bottom right corner that people could choose from. Slowly they hid the incorrect answers until there was only the correct answer left. It turns out the Aquarium has a loop of various questions about different animals that they just keep running in between the actual presentations.

When "You Otter Know" started there was one host from the Aquarium with a wireless microphone who welcomed everyone and then asked for 3 volunteers from the audience that were experts on sea otters. With the three volunteers picked, all kids roughly around 10 to 12yrs old, the host then explained that they would be quizzed about sea otters. Each kid had their own podium that held four signs, each with a letter on it A, B, C, or D. When a question was asked they were to hold up the sign corresponding to which answer they thought was correct. With the instructions done the host started with the questions, first he would read the question which was also displayed in large print on the auditorium screen and asked the volunteer contestants what they thought the correct answer was. Once all the kids had their signs held up he'd then ask the audience as a whole what the correct answer was. People in the audience would just say out loud what they thought it was, from the sound of it a large part of the audience was participating. He would then say what the correct answer was and go into more detail using prepared videos and photos displayed on the auditorium screen to for additional information and visuals. When the program time was up, around 4 or 5 questions were asked, everyone gave the contestants a round of applause and I believe each contestant got a little prize.

Overall, it was very well done program with a few items that stood out to me:
  • In the pre-show quiz, they would slowly hide the wrong answers until only the correct answer was left. This let people change their answer if their initial guess was wrong, so they could continue to participate in the question. It also made it easy to keep the question and the answer on the screen at the same time instead of going to a new slide showing the answer and the people who just walked it wondering what it was the answer to.
  • During the actual program even though they had the "official" contestants they would also ask the audience as well this kept everyone involved and participating. Instead of it just being a show the audience watched.
  • They didn't keep score, no points were ever referenced or given. This probably helped keep it fun and more light hearted.
  • Using the auditorium screen for showing more than just the text answer, showing videos that illustrated the answer, etc kept things interesting and allowed for better examples and illustrations.
Game shows have been around for many decades, so people must find them interesting, so I started thinking about other possibilities for using game shows within zoos and aquariums. 
  • A popular activity within bars and pubs is the "pub trivia night" what if a zoo or aquarium hosted an occasional trivia night? Where possible instead of static text questions bring out the actual item, animals, artifacts, etc. There could be ones geared towards adults that included where drinks could be purchased or brought, or ones that were geared more towards families and kids.
  • At fundraising events what if you did a "Price is Right" style game show where the contestants would try to guess how much different items cost? A months food for the tigers, the water bill for one exhibit, the cost for building one fake tree, how much it costs to employ a park ranger at a reserve in Africa. You could have actual contestants, but just like the "Price is Right" the audience could be saying what they think. 
  • Maybe one that is combination game show and scavenger hunt, where they answer the questions and then have to go around the zoo or aquarium to find out if they were correct or not.
  • How about something like "Press Your Luck" where you are trying to avoid the "Whammy", but in this case it's an endangered animal and the "Whammys" are it's threats to survival, poaching, habitat loss, pollution. The more endangered the animal the more "Whammys" there are.
What are other ways game shows could be used within Zoos and Aquariums?

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