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Welcome to the Visual World Investigate Lab

September 24, 2013

Well, I suppose I finally have time to write the introductory blog post about my lab and myself that I’ve been meaning to write for over a year. I can say that now because to be honest, at about 37,000ft, there is not much to do. At present I find myself about a quarter the way around the world on a 777 bound for Beijing, China at the invitation of the Chinese government.

How did I get to this point and what am I doing? Well, that is a bit of a long story and it will be covered in more than one post, so allow me to start at the beginning…

Who is Matthew Faerber?

Matthew at work.My name is Matthew Layton Faerber; I am the coordinator of the Visual World Investigate Lab in the newly built Nature Research Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have a bachelors’ degree in Environmental Science. I am interested in most scientific subjects, and I have held a deep passion for nature and environment for as long as I can remember.

After graduating from college in 2003 I began my career as a wetland ecologist for an environmental consulting company in Jacksonville, Florida where I assessed natural habitats, conducted species surveys, and wrote permit applications. After that experience I worked for the North Carolina Division of Water Quality, where I primarily created maps of watersheds and the buffer zones that serve to protect them. Lastly, before my current position, I worked at a university as a laboratory manager conducting water quality analysis using instruments such as mass spectrometers and nutrient analysis devices.

After all of those experiences I came to the conclusion that the potential impact of any one of those careers was not enough for me. I wanted to have a greater impact, so my next move was obvious: education. And in a rather round-about way, that decision brought me to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

What is the Visual World Investigate Lab?



The Visual World Investigate Lab (aka the “VisLab”) is a public laboratory, one of three in the Nature Research Center that anyone can enter, for free, seven days a week. I am the coordinator of this lab, of which I manage along with the co-coordinator, Walt Gurley (bio; introductory blog post). The primary focus of my lab is scientific visualizations. To that end I have designed a dozen highly specialized computer stations that utilize several programs, some we’ve written ourselves, and others that are free for all. About half of the stations utilize augmented reality, which is a technique for augmenting what is real with something that is not real. Using augmented reality you can hold a 3D model of the world, a dinosaur, and more, in your hand. Alternatively, there is also an electronics station, where we give impromptu electronics demonstrations and give children experiments to perform; but it isn’t just for fun, we also build new gadgets right there in front of everyone using technologies such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

The primary goal of the VisLab is to teach about science, and how science is done with the help of scientific visualizations and other cool technologies. Its’ secondary goal is to get children and adults excited and interested in science and engineering. To achieve these lofty goals, Walt and I work with unique and novel software and hardware technologies that are interesting and fun.

Lab Classes

The VisLab does close on the days that Walt and I teach in it. We teach classes during the day for public/private/home school groups, and in the evenings twice a month for anyone eleven and up. This fall our day classes include:  Beginners Electronics, Beginners Computer Programming, GIS Mapping, and Weather. Our evening classes are held twice a month and include Beginners Computer Programming and Beginners Electronics. Every month the evening classes are different; participants create a new program or electronic device each time.

See when our next evening class will be and how to sign up here: More types of classes will be added in the future.

The Future of the VisLab

Chip the robot.Imagine a laboratory filled with life-size virtual dinosaurs, real robots, and expert volunteers and staff that will answer all of your questions. That is just a small glimpse into what we are working towards – a space that inspires and excites using the wonders of science and technology.

I hope to see you in the VisLab sometime soon!


Coordinator of the Visual World Investigate Lab
NC Museum of Natural Sciences | Nature Research Center

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Apparmo permalink
    September 26, 2013 2:17 am

    Reblogged this on Apparmo.

  2. Apparmo permalink
    September 26, 2013 2:20 am

    Great Article! Thanks for sharing

  3. Mom permalink
    September 26, 2013 7:28 pm

    Great article !


  1. The VisLab in Beijing | NC Museum of Natural Sciences Education Blog

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