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The University of Minnesota Arboretum is a special place for children to learn about the natural world. The facility offers many activities that help children identify and learn in a fun and hands-on environment. Unfortunately, when arboretum administrators contacted Acoustical Solutions, the facility’s large open spaces were becoming so noisy that no one could hear clearly.
The University of Minnesota’s Arboretum contains a Learning Center exhibit area. It is used to educate children, typically ages five to twelve, about the natural world. Exhibits and activities for children include dissecting flowers, viewing tiny objects through a microscope, and growing their own “garden snacks.”
With as many as two school bus loads of children in the exhibit area at once, acoustics became a priority. The echo was caused by the sound of children’s interactions reverberating off the marble and other hard, flat surfaces. This prevented teachers and guides from communicating clearly and effectively.
When speech is distorted, it is more difficult for children to pay attention. They have a harder time than adults when deciphering language. The noise and subsequent sound distortion in the Learning Center diminished the educational experience and made it more difficult to manage behavior.
“The echo was terrible,” says Sandy Tanck, Manager of Youth, Family and Teacher Education. “The building just wasn’t designed to control the noise generated by all the kids.”
The Learning Center’s interior design features, such as marble floors, white walls and peaked ceilings, added to the echo problem. These features required an acoustical material. Ideally one that blended in, so they didn’t detract attention from the exhibits, or diminish the beautiful decor.
The center installed Sonex® Contour Acoustic Panels in the facility’s learning center and interactive exhibit area, as well as throughout the hallways leading to the various activity rooms and offices.
The tiles blend with the interior design and improve the acoustical quality of instructor-led classes and interactive lessons by absorbing sound energy before it can reverberate.
Sonex® Contour Acoustic Panels adhere directly to any ceiling or wall surface using panel foam adhesive. Depending on the style selected, the noise reduction coefficients (NRCs) range is from 0.65 to 1.20. Contour Acoustic Tiles are made of a melamine foam core and feature an optional HPC coating for durability and easy cleaning with a damp cloth.
Sonex® Contour Acoustic Panels are available in colors that can be mixed and matched to complement any decorating requirements. The acoustic tiles add style to offices, call centers, lobbies, retail stores, conference and boardrooms, among many other locations.
“As soon as they started to go up, I knew they’d make a difference,” says Tanck, “you could tell the difference in the acoustics before even half of the tiles were installed. And they matched the décor perfectly. They were exactly what we needed.”