Fostering Inquiry in Science Museums


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This presentation was made at the 2009 meeting of the American Association of Museums in Philadelphia. The talk was part of a session called, "Drawing Visitors In: Engaging Visitors in Science, Art & Children’s Museums." After each speaker presented, the audience broke into groups to try out the speakers' methods for engaging visitors.

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  • Welcome to this session, called In this session, we’re going to be talking about 3 mediation strategies, tested by research and evaluation, for deepening visitor engagement with museum exhibits. I’m Josh Julie is the Associate Curator of Education Tsivia is the Associate Vice President of Family Learning Initiatives
  • Fostering Inquiry in Science Museums

    1. 1. Drawing Visitors In: Engaging Visitors in Science, Art & Children’s Museums Julie Charles - SFMOMA Tsivia Cohen - Chicago Children’s Museum Josh Gutwill - Exploratorium
    2. 2. Session structure <ul><li>3 short presentations + Q&A </li></ul><ul><li>Small groups to try out one program </li></ul><ul><li>Whole group Discussion / Q&A </li></ul>
    3. 3. Fostering Inquiry in Science Museums Josh Gutwill Acting Director Exploratorium Visitor Research & Evaluation
    4. 4. Context: Exhibit Design SMM Experiment Benches Exploratorium APE MOS, Boston Investigate! PISEC study
    5. 5. G roup I nquiry by V isitors at E xhibits National Science Foundation Funded by
    6. 6. Group Inquiry by Visitors at Exhibits Sue Allen Craig Anderson Mark Boccuzzi Fay Dearborn Beth Gardner Josh Gutwill Malia Jackson Adam Klinger Nerissa Kuebrich Suzy Loper Kathy McLean Lisa Sindorf Erin Wilson
    7. 7. Research questions Is it possible to explicitly teach visitors a useful set of inquiry skills? Can we help groups work together?
    8. 8. Which Inquiry Skills? Questioning Investigating Explaining Using Evidence Problem solving Reflecting Propose Action Interpret Results Designing Experiment
    9. 9. Format: Juicy Question Game Play with Exhibit Do the Experiment Brainstorm “ Juicy Questions” Ask more “ Juicy Questions” Interpret Results
    10. 11. Framework for Analysis <ul><li>• Do visitors use the 2 skills at a new exhibit? </li></ul><ul><li>• Does the quality of inquiry improve? </li></ul><ul><li>• Do visitors work together more? </li></ul>Direct coding of video:
    11. 12. Results <ul><li>Juicy Question families: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make almost twice as many interpretations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Build explanations more collaboratively </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conduct more linked investigations </li></ul></ul>
    12. 13. Example of Group Inquiry <ul><li>Watch for: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inquiry skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Propose Action </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Interpret Results </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning from each other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Building on interpretations </li></ul></ul></ul>
    13. 15. Aspects of Group Inquiry <ul><li>Inquiry skills </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Boy asks juicy Q </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All make interp </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Building explanations </li></ul><ul><li>Coherent inquiry </li></ul>
    14. 16. Conclusions <ul><li>memorable format </li></ul><ul><li>learnable in ~20 mins </li></ul><ul><li>worked for family groups (8+) </li></ul><ul><li>worked for field trip groups, too </li></ul><ul><li>led to better inquiry </li></ul>Juicy Question: