Summative Evaluation of Giant Worlds Exhibition

April 1st, 2008 | EVALUATION

The Space Science Institute (SSI) contracted with Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A) to evaluate its traveling exhibition Giant Worlds. The evaluation documents the scope of Giant Worlds' impact and effectiveness for its target audience, children 8 to 13 years. Other specific objectives were to investigate how children interact with visitors and staff, to understand whether children felt like scientists or explorers, and to understand the extent to which children learned the exhibition's big ideas, such as giant planets were instrumental in the formation of Earth. Data were collected from June 2008 to July 2008 at the Orlando Science Center (OSC), and consist of 100 timing and tracking observations and 31 onsite interviews with children, 8 to 13 years. Significant findings are as follows: 1) By and large, children enjoyed and learned much from interactive exhibits that challenged them. For example, children liked the exhibit Friend or Foe, and as one child explained, he liked that it took a few tries in order to see how the giant planets could protect or be detrimental to Earth. Furthermore, a few visitors to Giant Worlds requested even more challenges. 2) Children left Giant Worlds having learned new information and reinforced ideas about giant planets, including that giant planets are gaseous, much bigger than Earth, and far from the Sun. Children had more difficulty grasping complex ideas about giant planets, such as the effects of giant planets in the formation of Earth a finding frequently encountered when studying children's exhibition experiences. 3) Exhibition developers are continually challenged with how to create effective traveling exhibitions given barriers such as exhibition installation (i.e., host museums do not always install the exhibits as suggested). Case in point, SSI offered an education program for host museum educators, which provided educators strategies for facilitating experiences in the exhibition, with the hope that this will enhance visitors' experiences. Unfortunately, even though OSC staff participated in the workshop, little staff facilitation took place during the evaluation period. While reasons are unknown, anecdotal data suggests that OSC staff did not have the resources to keep the exhibition staffed, in spite of SSI's training effort and interest in providing a quality visitor experience.



Team Members

Randi Korn & Associates, Inc., Evaluator, Randi Korn & Associates, Inc.
Space Science Institute, Contributor


Audience: Elementary School Children (6-10) | Evaluators | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Space science
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits