The Power Vista, run by the New York Power Authority, replaced or improved almost every exhibit as part of an extensive renovation. The center now offers a host of interactive cutting edge games and exhibits to tell the story of electricity and the important role the Niagara region has played in the building of the nation’s power grid.
A rollercoaster simulator allows visitors to hear, see and feel the experience of a single drop of rain as it lands in the Niagara River, gets pulled through a spinning turbine and is zipped along power lines as a unit of energy.
Kids of all ages can channel their inner engineer as they use touchscreens to build their own power dam, deciding which materials will result in the most resilient structure. A control room simulator lets them operate a power plant and control the demand for power across the state on hot and cold days, and a transmission table invites them to run the state grid and direct power to where it’s needed most.
Other user-friendly activities include watching a high-definition video on a 30x8 foot screen telling the full story of the power project and how it plays a role in the area; using touchscreens to stack layers of geologic strata to create perfect conditions for generating power; visiting the Electric Lab to learn about electricity; and watching digital portraits of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison debate the benefits of alternating and direct current.
Many of the new exhibits were tailored for a STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) curriculum for three different audiences; elementary, middle school and adult. Visitors can download their results from the interactive games onto an electronic card embedded with a microchip and revisit those experiences on their home computers and smart phones.
The Power Vista at 5777 Lewiston Road (Route 104) is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except some holidays. A video overview of the Power Vista and its attractions can be seen here. For more information, call the Power Vista at (716) 286-6661 or visit www.nypa.gov/vc/niagara.htm.