Microrobotics Takes Flight (RoboBees): Summative Evaluation Report

September 1st, 2014 | EVALUATION

In 2013 and 2014, the Museum of Science (MOS) partnered with Dr. Rob Wood’s lab at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) to create an exhibition about Wood’s Robotic Bees (RoboBees) project. The Microrobotics Takes Flight exhibition (referred to in the original grant as the RoboBees exhibition) consists of three interactive components and an introductory section. The three interactive components are modeled on the three different engineering teams working on the RoboBees project: the Brain, the Body, and the Colony teams. The purpose of the evaluation was primarily to understand the extent to which visitors understood the exhibition’s main messages or goals, as well as to gain an understanding of how visitors interact with the exhibition when not cued to do so. Therefore, the following questions guided this summative evaluation: 1. How do visitors interact with the Microrobotics Takes Flight exhibition? 2. How does visiting the Microrobotics Takes Flight exhibition impact visitor understanding of the associated main messages and learning goals? In addition, to inform future exhibits and programmatic efforts in this area, the following supplementary question was explored as a part of the summative evaluation: 3. How does visiting the Microrobotics Takes Flight exhibition impact visitors’ interest in or knowledge about engineering? Data collection involved two sample groups: visitor groups who used the Microrobotics Takes Flight exhibition for at least 30 seconds (the “Post” group) and, as a comparison group, visitor groups near the Microrobotics Takes Flight exhibition and general engineering exhibition area but who had not used the Microrobotics Takes Flight exhibition (the “Pre” group). These visitor groups were not cued by MOS staff. Data were collected through observations (Post only), interviews (Pre and Post), and surveys (Pre and Post). Evaluation data were collected from 81 groups comprised of 182 visitors during multiple data collection sessions over a two month period in June and July 2014. Findings suggest that overall, the Microrobotics Takes Flight exhibition achieved most, but not all, of its goals. The exhibition was successful in getting visitors to recognize the challenges of creating tiny flying robots like RoboBees, understanding the possible uses of the RoboBee, and recognizing that the RoboBees project is not finished. In addition, the exhibition was successful in helping visitors to understand that what they were doing is something like the engineering process. The exhibition was less successful in getting visitors to understand how the team broke down the problem by creating specialized teams. However, in general, the exhibition seems to clearly communicate the broader message about the process of research and engineering as opposed to the final product only. Includes interview and observation protocols.



Team Members

Museum of Science, Boston, Contributor
Elizabeth Kollmann, Evaluator, Museum of Science, Boston


Funding Source: NSF

Related URLs

Collaborative Research: RoboBees: A Convergence of Body, Brain and Colony


Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists
Discipline: Computing and information science | Engineering | Technology
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Interview Protocol | Observation Protocol | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Survey
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits