A Portal To The Future Of Education

Project: Verizon Foundation: Thinkfinity - Custom Island Exhibit & Informational Kiosks

Thinkfinity.org - the Verizon Foundation’s free educational network of educational resources and teaching tools for Grades K-12 – needed more than a powerful trade show exhibit. 

They needed an exhibit to empower the future of education itself.

The story of the Thinkfinity.org exhibit at the NECC conference is the story of a well orchestrated trade show exhibit designed by Klose Associates to display the very future of education, a future that Thinkfinity.org wanted educators to imagine, to experience, and to help co-create. 

The Exhibit Begins

In March 2007, the Verizon Foundation announced a $31 million investment to enhance its online educational platform supporting teachers, students and educational organizations.  The Thinkfinity.org platform is the result of this commitment. With the support of many impressive educational sponsors including the Kennedy Foundation, Thinkfinity.org was set to exhibit the largest, most expansive online access to a universe of educational information.  

Now they needed to exhibit their ingenuity to the educators who would be responsible for its widespread implementation. 

The unveiling of the new Thinkfinity.org platform was scheduled to take place at their trade show exhibit, at the largest US annual educational conference, National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), June 24-27, 2007, Atlanta GA. 

NECC is sponsored by the International Society for Technology in Education and the ISTE 100 Alliance, a group of organizations and corporations supporting the effective use of technology in education. The Thinkfininty.org exhibit needed to draw at least 10% of the 14,000 NECC educators into the exhibit display, where they would experience a hands-on interaction with education, Thinkfinity-style. 

An Exhibit of Educational Style  

Today’s kids exhibit their own educational style. They learn in the world of iPods, cell phones and X-boxes. Producing interactive, engaging lessons plans in the classroom is necessary for kids to have interaction with their education.   

In an industry where trade show exhibits are more traditionally covered in primary colors, the Thinkfinity.org exhibit was designed to cut through the confusion, and get right to the point.  

Klose Associates, Inc., specializing in custom trade show exhibits and custom trade show exhibit rentals, quickly understood that Thinkfinity.org wasn’t just introducing a new platform, they were introducing a new future of education, where self-learners and future leaders could thrive.

At the essence of their design challenge, Klose Associates knew that the Thinkfinity.org exhibit needed to exhibit an environment that was both highly interactive and 'smart'. Thus, every inch of the 20’ x 40’ exhibit floor space was designed to engage NECC attendees in the future of education, available now.  

The curved trade show exhibit walls began by suggesting a 'free flowing' interactive exchange of ideas and information in education. 

Inside the Thinkfinity.org exhibit, attendees found themselves in a world of “portals to the future of education,” including exhibit lightboxes, reflective graphics and kiosk foot pads. 

Oversized 36" diameter lightbox portals visually pierced8’ x 16' exhibit walls, both literally and symbolically going beneath the“surface” into the expansive future. 

And under the surface, the Thinkfinity.org exhibit combined environmentally friendly exhibit materials with a traditional wood core, bringing up thoughts of a sustainable future.

Clean and uncluttered with lots of open space, the Thinkfinity.org exhibit was designed to be highly utilitarian, reinforcing the online platform’s ease of use. White surfaces were the backdrop for bold exhibit graphics, placed sparingly and strategically against alternating white textures of the exhibit walls.  

The total budget for the Thinkfinity.org 20 x 40 custom exhibit was $200,000.

Exhibit: The Classroom of the Future

At the heart of the Thinkfinity.org exhibit, Klose Associates created the classroom of the future with space-age Jetson’s style chairs and tables – the Enlightened Classroom – where the teachers became the students and the Thinkfinity.org platform was at the head of the class.

In The Enlightened Classroom, teachers and students interacted outside the box, using Thinkfinity.org to facilitate and further the exchange of ideas. In this classroom exhibit, educators experienced like students, involved and excited.  These students helped create their own learning and the teachers of today remembered why they were so excited about teaching in the first place.

Later, at a planned Product Improvisation Presentation in the booth, 10 year old child writer Adora Svitak used Thinkfinity on the spot, to create a story with audience participation, her own writing skills, and the Thinkfinity platform. While James Earl Jones read The Princess and the Pea, Adora stood in the exhibit and searched through Thinkfinity.org resources for fresh ideas, creating a modern-day version of the fairy tale, which now resides on the Thinkfinity.org homepage. Over 250 attendees plus press and VIPs from ISTE, Verizon and the Georgia State Legislature, stood in the exhibit to participate in this unique product demonstration.

The Press Exhibits Interest

All eyes were on the Thinkfinity.org exhibit. CBS 46 in Atlanta interviewed Adora Svitak at the Thinkfinity.org booth. WXIA 11, an NBC affiliate in Altanta, sent education reporter Donna Lowry to interview ISTE president Trina Davis and Verizon spokesperson James Earl Jones. Atlanta Journal Constitution Reporter Diane Stepp described the Thinkfinity.org exhibit as one of the high points of the NECC conference. 

Edutopia Magazine Editor James Daily also covered Thinkfinity.org exhibit.  Mac Edition Radio Host/Executive Producer Harris Fogel interviewed Adora Svitak, for on air and website posting. Apple’s video crew interviewed Thinkfinity’s Jennifer Fritschi and Adora Svitak for a podcast on the itunes website.

Exhibit Success

The Thinkfinity.org exhibit was so full during show hours, at times it was standing room only in The Enlightened Classroom. The total number of leads counted afterwards of those who visited the Thinkfinity.org exhibit was 2500 – 18% of the total NECC audience. Over 800 attendees participated in the exhibit Classroom presentation. And well over 1500 people attended breakout sessions outside the booth itself.

After NECC: Thinkfinity Exhibits at Magna Carta Rededication

The Thinkfinity.org exhibit was designed to be used in different configurations, to promote Thinfinity.org at a wide variety of venues and planned educational appearances. Shortly after its premier at NECC, the exhibit traveled in a smaller configuration to Philadelphia, PA, for a July 3 Rededication of the Magna Carta, hosted by the Verizon Foundation with spokesperson James Earl Jones.  

A long and imaginative tour is currently planned for the Thinkfinity.org exhibit, as it continues to introduce teachers and students to education that will shape the future – and the future looks like fun.