Asheboro, NC - The North Carolina Zoo's Solar Pointe energy exhibit recently won a Certificate of Excellence in the category of exhibit signage at the 2011 American Graphic Design Awards competition.

This year's contest attracted more than 8,000 entries in categories ranging from corporate logos, to interactive design and packaging, to broadcast and motion pictures. Only 15 percent of the entries were recognized with an award. Graphic Design USA has held this competition for almost 50 years and is considered the flagship competition in the design industry.

Stacey Brown, a graphic designer at the zoo, was project manager and lead designer for the exhibit. Other design-team members were Betsy Powell (graphic design), Lance Hill (graphics technician) and Bill Rankin (exhibit technician).

The Solar Pointe exhibit was made possible by funding from the North Carolina's Touchstone Electrical Membership Cooperatives and Randolph Electrical Membership Cooperative. The cooperatives and the N.C. Zoo worked in tandem to develop the theme for the interpretive and interactive kiosk.

Located beneath the zoo's three solar panel arrays, this visually exciting exhibit focuses on energy and is targeted to youths. The exhibit, entitled "Plug Into the Future," is playfully designed with bright colors, an interactive touch-screen featuring videos and games, and oversized iconic elements to attract attention.

One oversized element, a huge electric plug, comes down from the roof of the solar panel array to convey the idea that our electricity comes from the sun. Touch-screen games guide visitors through better energy decision-making and suggest actions to take to increase energy efficiency. Since the exhibit is located at a popular picnic area for school groups having their lunches, several of the games use the metaphor of food to help convey the ideas.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.