A comparison of uk science museums and visitor m cassidy

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Michael Cassidy: A coparison of Uk science museums and visitor attractions

Scientix European Conference, 6-8 May 2011, Brussels

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A comparison of uk science museums and visitor m cassidy

  1. 1. A comparison of UK science museums and visitor attractions<br />Dr Mike Cassidy<br />University of Warwick<br />
  2. 2. a comparison of uk science museums and visitor attractions<br />The talk will contrast the organisational structure and guiding principles of both museums and science visitor attractions; exploring the learning that binds them.<br />The literature is clear, transformation is possible and young people can benefit from museum and other informal science experiences. Pupil learning and the aspirations of young people can be harnessed through exposure to appropriate stimuli within the context of an informal environment. <br />
  3. 3. Engaging young people in Science<br />“A considerable body of evidence now exists that, compared to other school subjects, science is failing to engage young people. Yet, student interest in science at age 10 has been shown to be high and with little gender difference – although stark gender differences emerge as children get older. In the UK, research has shown that the point of decline begins in the final year of elementary school.“<br />BERA 2010 Paper: 1st-4th September 2010, University of Warwick<br />‘Science is not for me?’: exploring children’s and families’ engagement with science through the lens of identity<br /> Prof. Louise Archer, King’s College London<br />
  4. 4. Science museums and visitor attractions<br />Museums and Visitor attractions have different origins developed by different groups of individuals, with different objectives, but with the general aim of promoting a public engagement in science<br />“In terms of public engagement, the Government’s aim is to foster the conditions for a “knowledge democracy”— where the value of science is both fully recognised and appreciated as underpinning both our continued economic success and improving quality of life for all in the UK”<br /> <br />Submission from DTI / DfES / DCMS : (House of Commons, Science and Technology Committee, 11th Report, Volume 2, Oct. 2007)<br /> <br />
  5. 5. Museums<br />Museums, often regarded as a Victorian invention, were established either by philanthropists, learned societies and / or local and national government to enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. <br />“They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society.” <br />(Museums Association, 1998).<br /> In other words, museums possess a collection which they make availableto members of that society. <br />To become a bona fide museum in the UK, the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council run an accreditation scheme (formerly registration). Stringent tests are in place. It must be pointed out that several institutions calling themselves museums are not accredited by the MLAC.<br /> <br />
  6. 6. UK Science Museums<br />Science Museum<br />London (1857)<br />Discovery Museum<br />Newcastle upon Tyne (1934)<br />The Hunterian Museum<br />Glasgow (1807)<br />
  7. 7. Visitor Attractions<br />Visitor attractions (more accurately termed Science and Discovery centres) are a diverse group of institutions providing informal education in a wide range of scientific and technological disciplines. They generally employ interactive exhibits using a much more audience-centred approach. Key goals of Science and Discovery centres are :<br /><ul><li>to inspire young people to study and take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
  8. 8. to educate and to enthuse children about science and innovation and contribute to the professional development of science teachers
  9. 9. to inform and to engage the public with scientific issues</li></ul>(House of Commons, Science and Technology Committee, 11th Report, Volume 1, Oct. 2007)<br /> <br />
  10. 10. Science Visitor Centres<br />Each year 20 million adults and children of all backgrounds choose to visit a UK science and discovery centre or museum. Over 14 million people visit in their leisure time to explore and discover the sciences informally with their families and friends. <br />Science and discovery centres feel they specialise in opening up the sciences to a very broad range of people in innovative, engaging and enjoyable ways. To achieve this they work with a variety of experts including artists, storytellers, comedians, scientists, ethicists, designers, animators, multimedia specialists and community and youth engagement specialists. <br />
  11. 11. Science centres share many of their educational aims with museums <br /> <br /><ul><li>a public engagement with science
  12. 12. providing an educational resource for schools and colleges
  13. 13. the development of a national scientific literacy
  14. 14. teaching and learning strategies</li></ul> <br />
  15. 15. Science centres and museums often share a similar physical space <br /><ul><li>self contained, often purpose built, gallery space
  16. 16. sited to serve both a local and national community (often also international / tourist)
  17. 17. use of interactivity
  18. 18. visually exciting and motivating with “real” artefacts and “live” activities
  19. 19. occasionally operating together (eg Launch Pad at the Science Museum, London)</li></li></ul><li>A comparison of the main distinguishing features between museums and Science Centres (Collections)<br />
  20. 20. A comparison of the main distinguishing features between museums and Science Centres (Funding)<br />
  21. 21. A comparison of the main distinguishing features between museums and Science Centres (Perceptions)<br />
  22. 22. A comparison of the main distinguishing features between museums and Science Centres (Philosophy)<br />
  23. 23. Discussion<br /><ul><li>Both museums & Science Centres can be thought of as monuments to science
  24. 24. The strong tradition of educational practice in museums continues
  25. 25. There is a move away from ‘black box’ science
  26. 26. Core values of authenticity, accessibility & relevance are supplemented by income generation, image and community role
  27. 27. Museum & Science Centre activities are not especially well evaluated in the UK
  28. 28. Institutions all benefit from new visualisation technologies
  29. 29. In the 21st Century the display forms only part of the visitor experience
  30. 30. Museums and Visitor attractions have distinct roles and these are appreciated by the audience</li></li></ul><li>The strong tradition of educational practice in museums continues<br />
  31. 31. How to support informal science learning<br /><ul><li>Engage pupils in more outgoing, risk taking, exploratory behaviour
  32. 32. Consider informal experiences as a means of motivating disenchanted pupils
  33. 33. Increase the use of ICT in your teaching
  34. 34. Examine ways pupils might engage in out of school research activities
  35. 35. Design a (classroom) informal science experience
  36. 36. Facilitate class or individual engagement in citizen-science projects</li></li></ul><li>Museums on the web: a study<br />THE 21ST CENTURY SCIENCE MUSEUM & VISITOR ATTRACTION : RELEVANT CRITERIA<br />(1) web site : user satisfaction survey<br />(2) semantic differential analysis<br />(3) swot analysis<br />

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