By DENNIS WYATT
The 209 staff
SAN JOSE — The Tech Museum of San Jose draws a wide array of reactions from adults.
Some think it is designed just for kids and technology challenged among those who are still trying to figure out how to program VCR players to those who believe it is a captivating way to spend a few hours.
So the best way to put it to the test was to visit it with a pair of 19-year-olds who have never know life without smartphones, the Internet, or flashy and intricate video games.
And —over two hours of wandering through nine different technology galleries — it is safe to say it captivated their interest enough to satisfy even the X-Box Generation.
If you expect the Tech Museum to simply be all things Silicon Valley and biotech, guess again. It runs the gamut from a jet pack chair you can "ride" to get a feel of how astronauts in space move around to simple technology such as a foot operated pump that works much like a Stairmaster to allow impoverished Third World people to have clean drinking water from the ground.
The technology museum's mission is to show visitors how technology is changing — and can change — the world around them as well as their own lives.
It does it with a combination of static displays and hands on demonstrations.
Some of the more hands on demonstrations of technology at the Tech Museum besides the jet pack simulator are:
*An exhibit that features a one-person submarine and computer simulation to give you the impression of piloting a craft under the sea.
*A real working robotic vehicle such as the ones used to explore the surface of Mars that you can operate.
*A shake table that holds up to 12 people to allow you to experience one or more of eight different earthquakes through history used simulation baed on actual earthquake data such as magnitude, movement type, and duration.
*Google's first publi intlaltion of its Liquid Galaxy that allows a person inside teh circular room of screens to fy cross teh surafce of teh earth, moon and mars by tocuhing a button and moving a joystick. A custom version of Google Earth makes the voyages possible.
*Numerous touch and video screen interaction displays that demonstrate a repertoire of technology.
*The ability to harness sun, wind, and water in collaboration with others to make a power tower glow.
*A Tech Virtual Galley that allows you interject your image into various tech creations.
*A Pixel display where eye tracking cameras allow others to see what you see through your eyes.
*A digital foam station that allows you to sculpt 3-D models with your hands.
*A body heat infrared heat exhibit where you can see where body's hot and cold sports are.
That is just a tip of the interactive modern-day tech displays.
There are also others such as being able use muscle power by hand c ranking a generator to run a radio while another display lets you use pedal power to light up various devices from a light bulb to a traffic signal.
Many of the "static" displays are enlightening as well. They run the gamut of demonstrating the timeline of the rill out of various computer technologies - including displays of some of the devices that would seem prehistoric to a 19-year-old today — to displays of a modern-day electric vehicles and a106-year old electric car.
There are also displays of bio-tech advancements and explanations of DNA research.
There are also tech challenges. You can drop-in any time with specific dates available on the Tech Museum websites.
It provides the opportunity for teams of students in the fifth through 12th grades to tackle various tech challenges in the undertaking presented by Cisco Systems. This year's challenge is to create a solution to help earthquake survivors after a quake damages a bridge. The challenge is to create a device that will reach and rescue stranded people.
Volunteer judges are on hand to help simulate the competition and assist in the learning process.
It involve everything from creativity, problem solving, design, teamwork, leadership, presentation, risk-taking, perseverance, and learning from failure that are all combined for a hands-on engineering project geared to solve a real world problem.
The Tech Museum website Museum carries details of workshops and drop-in endeavors that strive to be cutting edge..
The Tech Museum also has a gift shop.