How People Make Things Summative Evaluation

January 1st, 2009 | EVALUATION

How People Make Things is an exhibition that helps families talk together and learn about the making of everyday objects. The goal of the project was to create a learning environment that mediates difficult manufacturing concepts for parents, and scaffolds the development of family conversations about the processes of making both inside and outside the museum. A visit to the exhibition would be deemed successful if visitors demonstrated changes in what they knew and how they talked about objects and manufacturing processes. A model of change describing how families might build such an understanding was developed to assess whether the exhibition met these objectives. The model provides markers of what family conversations around objects look like before, during, and after families visit the exhibition. We examined visitor process conversations during matched pre-post visit interviews, and analyzed a subset of visitor conversations during the exhibition experience itself. If the majority of visitors demonstrated a shift towards more powerful conversations about manufacturing during and after the visit, this would be considered positive evidence that the exhibition was a productive learning environment, where families could talk together and cultivate a shared set of ideas around the processes through which everyday objects are made. Evaluation data was collected from two locations: The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and the Omaha Children's Museum. Evidence from family conversations at the two venues supports the model of change. We found that the shared experience of How People Make Things significantly changes the way that families think and talk about objects, people, processes, and tools. In addition, comparisons of pre and post-visit interview responses indicate that the exhibition succeeds in enriching parents and children's understanding of manufacturing. Although there are some differences between Pittsburgh and Omaha families with regard to their understanding of specific manufacturing processes like Cutting, Molding, Deforming, and Assembly, overall, families were able to positively transform how they talked about objects after visiting the exhibition. This report includes interview protocols.



Team Members

Camellia Sanford-Dolly, Evaluator, University of Pittsburgh
Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, Contributor


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 0407355
Funding Amount: 1552571

Related URLs
How People Make Things--A Traveling Exhibition


Audience: Elementary School Children (6-10) | Evaluators | Families | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Engineering | General STEM | Nature of science
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Interview Protocol | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Summative
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits