Experimenting in LabX: A Case Study with the National Academy of Sciences

Julia Kennedy - Marketing & Aud Dev Associate

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At Museum Hack, we believe in putting plans into action quickly and embracing experimentation to find out what works and what can be improved. Remember, we preach no failure, only feedback.

The former Koshland Science Museum (under the National Academy of Sciences) recently evolved into LabX, a public engagement initiative that promotes science-based programming.

The goal for the new initiative is to have participants come together to investigate, discuss and collaborate on impactful, meaningful issues that are supported by evidence from scientific research in LabX activities, events, and programs.

Online or on-site, LabX is looking forward to engaging audiences through a variety of platforms and locations in Washington, DC—including the Academy’s historic building on the National Mall—and around the country.

To kick off their new programming, LabX called us in to help them hit the ground running with new tips and tricks in hand.

The group, ft. Julia, Hannah, and Dustin, ready to throw one killer event!

We’ve found that one of the best ways to make a change is to put new techniques into practice right away, so we’ve come up with a unique workshop that teaches storytelling skills and implements those in an event the very next day. We (Julia, Dustin, and Hannah) headed to DC to bring this pedagogy to the National Academy of Sciences and LabX teams. For this special storytelling workshop, we worked with the staff on our signature style and methods, and even expanded the idea further to branded experiences.

How does storytelling fit into a branded experience, you ask? Our storytelling methods work on both tour stops and cohesive events… and there’s no better way to show off how the process works than putting the pressure on and hosting an event the day after we’ve delivered our workshop.

We have developed a storytelling structure that makes it easy to drop in content and make one killer event, even only 24 hours in advance.

Here’s How the NAS & LabX Teams Did

Bet you never thought our storytelling structure could even make a woman’s bathroom interesting!

Our Hackers-in-Training perfected some of the best stories, featuring everything from works of art to the women’s bathroom using our signature storytelling style. Then, we talked about how those stories fit into the larger structure of the event experience.

To mix it up, we challenged the team to not only create a story but also integrate an activity to practice different ways to engage guests and rapidly prototype games.

Guests love getting in on the action!

The event was structured into two parts that allowed us to show off the National Academy of Science’s content and history and then turn the experience over to the guests to engage in some self-exploration and close looking.

Of course, we also stressed the importance of leveraging this event to grab evergreen content.

Casual Darwin selfie, anyone?

So, How Did It Go?

We had a big crowd of dedicated attendees that were down for trivia, stories, and games—and they showed off how much they enjoyed the evening by sharing their photos on Twitter and Instagram with the new hashtag, #DCNightLab.

The kick-off event to launch LabX formally to the public went off so well, the NAS and LabX teams are taking the event out into DC with the next NightLab, featuring a science-themed improv battle royale with local improv groups.

Seriously, y’all, this place is gorgeous

Want to bring storytelling into your own space with everything from tour stops, to marketing, to a larger event? We’d love to help. Email [email protected].

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