Front-end Research for Current Science Exhibits

October 1st, 2004 | EVALUATION

Concept planning studies ("front-end" studies) are useful in finding out "where the audience is starting from" in their perceptions of particular subjects, themes or messages to be communicated in upcoming exhibitions. In this case, the exhibition team needed some clarifications about visitors' awareness, interests, and other perceptions of 'current science.' The priorities for this research were focused on:

  • name and recognition of the topic (explore people's reactions to 10 preliminary "titles;" seek examples of topics that they associate with new/current science)
  • interest in current science (to be analyzed by visitor characteristics, supplemented with reasons for interest)
  • connection to everyday life (do people pay attention to science stories in the news? does current science seem relevant to them? why?)
  • basic learning outcomes (awareness of current science in the gallery where visitors are interviewed, do they know basic information about a sample of topics that are in the news? do they think that scientific research produces one answer or can there be multiple perspectives?)
  • Pursuing these priorities, the questions driving this research included: are people interested in current science? if so, why are they interested? is 'current science' a good name - one that appeals to people and one that they understand? considering that the Museum has assembled a set of prototype exhibits about low-carb diets (the Current Science Central zone), is there a way to put that set of exhibits in context by investigating people's perceptions of that topic in relation to other possible topics? and what do people think of science-in-progress, as most current science is, such as examples of results that scientists may disagree about, or results that may be interpreted in more than one way.



    Team Members

    Jeff Hayward, Evaluator, People Places & Design Research
    Science Museum of Minnesota, Contributor
    Jolene Hart, Evaluator, People, Places & Design Research


    Funding Source: NSF
    Funding Program: ISE/AISL
    Award Number: 0337389
    Funding Amount: 1547901

    Related URLs

    Presenting Current Science and Research: A New Model for Exhibit Making


    Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
    Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM | Health and medicine | Nature of science
    Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Front-End
    Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits