Atomic Carrots Brings History And Culture To Life Using the Power Of Play

Atomic Carrots is a design and fabrication shop located in Oakland Park that makes interactives and exhibits for museums and other institutions. Their creations are more than just museum exhibits, though – their creations tell a story and give viewers an opportunity to interact and explore. Using the power of play and immersive experiences, Atomic Carrots brings history and culture to life.

The Story Behind Atomic Carrots

Nora Pinell-Hernandez, Founding Creative Director of Atomic Carrots, has her Master’s degree in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and describes herself as someone who has always been entrepreneurial. She had experience working in museums, so she saw firsthand the problems other museums encountered and thought, “It would be great if I could help them out and do what I love, which is making cool stuff and working on new projects every day.”

Nora worked for the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum for about 5 years before venturing out on her own to start Atomic Carrots in 2019. Today, Atomic Carrots creates interactives, exhibits, visual media, and more for some of Florida’s most popular museums and historical sites.

Nora Pinell-Hernandez is the Founding Creative Director of Atomic Carrots

Interactive Creations and Exhibits

Atomic Carrots works on new projects each and every day. They have recently finished a variety of engaging, interactive exhibits that teach locals about Florida’s natural ecosystems. For example, a new Sea Turtle Nest diorama that they worked on will be shown at the Frost Science Museum in late July 2022.

They also recently finished a marine debris exhibit for Biscayne National Park, which will be launched later this summer. This exhibit will feature a giant wave with tons of trash at the bottom as well as an exhibit panel discussing marine debris and the efforts that go into cleaning Florida waterways.

The marine debris exhibit is educational, but it is also a photo-op. Viewers will be able to sit down on a bench inside the wave and take pictures. Nora hopes this exhibit will help people realize that protected natural areas are still affected by the things people throw out each day.

One of Nora’s favorite experiences while running this business has been her work with Death Valley National Park. Atomic Carrots worked with the park to restore a 3D-printed map of the park. Nora and her team were there for 7 days, working hard to clean, restore, and match colors on the map.

Nora explained that, once the project was complete, she got to spend an entire week exploring the park, and that “having the freedom to go out and explore while also working on something that millions of people will see every year is the best!”

Nora at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley National Park about to restore a 3D map.

Parot: A Children's Language Learning Resource

Nora and her Lead Developer, Bob Swift, have been working to create a children’s language learning toy called Parot, which stands for “Play Any Recording On Tablet.” The wooden tablet features interchangeable and customizable image slides that can be matched with audio recordings to promote language learning in Native American communities. It even has Bluetooth audio pairing capabilities.

The toy will help advance the preservation of tribal cultures and their languages as it can be customized for any language. The Parot prototype is currently being tested out by the Kituwah Preservation and Education Program for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The toy will help advance the preservation of tribal cultures and their languages as it can be customized for any language. The Parot prototype is currently being tested out by the Kituwah Preservation and Education Program for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Embracing the Power of Play

One thing that makes Atomic Carrots unique is their outlook on play when creating exhibits. While they started by developing interactives for play in history museums, Atomic Carrots now spreads the joy of the principles of play everywhere – including with corporate institutions, national parks, educators, scientists, brands, historic sites, and more.

According to Nora, “Play brings out a lot of joy and self-discovery in people…We often think play is something frivolous but it is really important in knowing yourself, your neighbors, and the world around you”.

She explains that “it is human nature to play and work with our hands and other senses, so bringing play into institutions, specifically historical and cultural centers, brings out the humanity in us”.

Two soldiers in front of the newly installed replica wheels of a WWII Japanese cannon at the Parris Island Museum.

Giving Back to the Community

Atomic Carrots has done more than just create unique interactives to encourage play, they also stepped up to the plate to help the community at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nora isn’t someone who likes to sit still or have idle time, so when everything shut down during the first wave of the pandemic, she felt the need to step up and do something to help the community.

At the time, there was a market shortage of PPE, and Atomic Carrots already had the machinery and tools in place to create face shields, so they didn’t waste any time. They even went a step further in bridging the PPE shortage gap by making their face shield design open-sourced, so anyone can use the design to create their own shields.

By the time there was no longer a shortage of face shields, they had already manufactured over 5,000 face shields which were donated to local hospitals, urgent care centers, and tribal governments.

A Small Business With a Big Future

Like many small businesses, Nora receives a lot of help from her family and friends. Michael Fanslow, the shop foreman, is her fiance; Juan Meza, the metal specialist, is her brother-in-law; and Hilda Reyes, the marketing manager, is Nora’s sister. She even calls upon her little nephew for photoshoots from time to time.

It seems as though there is no project Atomic Carrots can’t carry out with gusto and professionalism. Their interactives encourage play among children, teens, and adults alike while teaching them important things about history, culture, language, and the earth.

Do you need to create something atomic? Head on over to atomiccarrots.com to request their portfolio or learn more about their work.

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*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

About the Author

Cassidy Webb

Cassidy Webb

Cassidy Webb is a Texas native and South Florida transplant. She grew up just outside of Dallas, TX, and moved to South Florida four years ago. She now considers Fort Lauderdale her home.

Cassidy is the project manager at a small digital marketing company and she enjoys freelance writing on the side. In her free time, you can catch her exploring local parks or taking long walks through the neighborhood with her dog, Bella.

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