HUMAN PLUS: Real Lives + Real Engineering Opens at the Health Museum in Houston

HUMAN PLUS: Real Lives + Real Engineering Opens at the Health Museum in Houston

The future is now for medical science, and no place is that more evident than at Houston's world-renowned Texas Medical Center (TMC). Beginning this month, The John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science - a TMC member institution - brings to Houston a fascinating look into the ingenuity and creativity behind developing groundbreaking engineering solutions that improve human lives every day, through the traveling exhibition: Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering.

On display at The Health Museum through January 1, 2018, this exhibition offers young and young-at-heart guests the chance to explore and create a range of low- and high-tech tools that extend the abilities of the human body. From customized wheelchairs for off-roading, to neuroprosthetic limbs controlled by a user's thoughts, Human Plus showcases some of the amazing technology that is being developed by today's engineers.

"The advancements and developments related to medical technology taking place right now are both exciting and inspiring," said Dr. Melanie Johnson, President and CEO of The Health Museum. "We are thrilled to bring to Houston a hands-on, interactive experience that truly allows our members and especially our youngest guests the opportunity to experience first-hand what medical innovation looks and feels like."

Funded by the National Science Foundation, Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering showcases compelling stories from a unique field of engineering that not only helps people carry out their day-to-day routines, but also helps them realize lifelong dreams.

The exhibition features:

Throughout the exhibit, guests will be able get their hands on a broad range of actual ability-enhancing tools. Exhibits include a simulated downhill mono-ski course; a DJ station built of out a wheel chair and controlled by the wheels; a touch panel that translates music into vibrations guests can feel; a hands-free computer mouse, controlled through slight movements of the head, that allows the guest to type messages, edit photos or watch videos; and a neuroprosthetic limb that can be controlled by a person's thoughts! Guests can even re-design themselves in a full body simulation and test body enhancement technologies that supersize their strength, showcasing the new horizon of engineering that was once the stuff of science fiction.

The engineering process always begins by asking the user what he or she wants to achieve. Human Plus poses design challenges from real-life users, such as "can you make a tool to help a wheelchair user feed a pet? Or a tool that helps the visually impaired detect hard-to-detect obstacles? How about a canoe that someone can paddle without using arms?" After viewing some of the amazing technology developed by today's engineers, guests will be able to put their own engineering skills to the test as they build and try out their own inventions.

From busy moms to engineers, adventurers to dance performers; people who use these new technologies - as well as the innovators themselves - share their stories through videos as well as the real life tools they use every day. Whether about caring for three children, or reaching the summit of Mt. Everest; these stories captivate listeners.

Access to Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering is included in the regular price of admission at The Health Museum. For more information about the exhibition visit

About The Health Museum: The Health Museum, John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science, is Houston's most interactive science & health learning center, a Smithsonian Affiliate and a member institution of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center. The Health Museum is the most visited museum of its kind in the country totaling more than 180,000 visitor experiences annually, and more than 2.6 million visitors and counting since its inception in 1996. Located in the heart of the city's rich and varied Museum District, The Health Museum's mission is to foster wonder and curiosity about health, medical science and the human body.

General admission to The Health Museum is free for children two and under; $8 for children 3 to 12 years old and seniors 65 and above; $10 for adults; and free on Thursdays for families. Active and retired personnel receive half-off admission for up to four people. General admission also provides access to the museum's multiple exhibits. For more information about The Health Museum visit

About National Science Foundation: "Human +" is a collaboration among the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI), NSF Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center (QoLT ERC) of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), and the Institute for Learning Innovation. The project will engage engineers, educators, designers, and people with disabilities in a process of participatory design to create a 2,500 square foot traveling exhibition entitled "Human +". The STEM content is engineering, specifically the extraordinary technological advances being made to enhance human abilities. The project is making three significant contributions to the Informal Science Education (ISE) field: 1) It is a model of close integration of an NSF-funded engineering research center into an ISE project. (2) It engages people with disabilities, both as participants and audiences. (3) It broadens engagement with engineering as a participatory, creative, and socially important ISE undertaking.

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