San Jose's Tech Interactive creates new ways to spread mission during COVID-19 pandemic

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Saturday, December 12, 2020
The Tech Interactive innovates during COVID-19
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The Tech Interactive's normally busy exhibition halls have been closed since March. But the work at the Tech has continued with virtual lessons and construction at the South Bay museum.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- We are highlighting museums across the Bay Area this week, businesses that have been mostly closed the entirety of the coronavirus pandemic. However, while guests haven't returned to the Tech Interactive in San Jose, the innovation never stops.

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Since 1998 the Tech Interactive in Downtown San Jose has been a place children and adults alike can create and innovate in the heart of the Silicon Valley.

But no amount of problem-solving could have prepared the museum for what came in 2020.

"It's the first time we've ever been closed like this," Tech Interactive President and CEO Katrina Stevens said. "We had no notice, the same as everyone else, that we had to shut our doors and everyone had to go home. We thought maybe, it would be a couple weeks?"

Overnight these once busy exhibits closed and they've been this way since March.

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Tech President and CEO Katrina Stevens knew they had to find a way to continue.

"At the heart of the Tech's mission is to make innovators and problem solving skills," Stevens said. "So we realized, when the pandemic hit and we had to close our doors that all the staff would have to put those skills to work."

The Tech developed an all-new website with interactive challenges and even virtual field trips with trained instructors to bring all the greatness of the Tech to thousands of homes instead of on location.

While most of the work moved online, the Tech also focused efforts within the Interactive where creation continued for staff.

"It has been interesting because, being closed, we're actually able to get more done within the Interactive," Design and Production Designer John Vieira said. "It's been wonderful to see the dedication to try and keep the building going. That includes maintenance and new exhibitions like the the Solve for Earth exhibition at the Tech Interactive."

The 5,000 square foot exhibit is one of the largest exhibitions that the Tech has ever created.

We can't share too many secrets, but the exhibit will feature touch screens, three-dimensional projections and a massive interactive video wall that teaches guests about the environment and sustainability.

"It really gets people thinking and asking questions about, 'well, if I make this choice, what is the future for my planet and my family and the community itself," Vieira said.

So what is the future of the Tech Interactive?

Time will tell.

But until the doors reopen, the staff will remain dedicated to their community to help build a better tomorrow.

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"I'm so excited, so is the rest of the staff, for that day that we are able to have our community, families and kids coming back and to see that spark ignite when they interact with all the exhibits and we'll have a new exhibit, Solve for Earth, that no one has seen before," Stevens said.

The Solve for Earth exhibit will open in 2021.

For more information on how to give back to the Tech Interactive or visit their virtual tools, click here.

Take a look at all of ABC7's Building a Better Bay Area stories and videos here.

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