Summative Evaluation of Three Exhibition Galleries: Engineering America, Towpath Town, and Waterworks

March 1st, 2007 | EVALUATION

National Canal Museum (NCM) contracted with Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A) to evaluate three National Science Foundation-funded exhibitions: Engineering America, Towpath Town, and Waterworks. All three exhibitions were designed to facilitate multi-generational learning of science within an historical context using a variety of interactive and hands-on learning activities, a unique approach for this history museum. The exhibitions' target audience was broadly defined as families, including visitors 6 years of age and older. To examine visitors' experiences and the exhibitions' impact, RK&A conducted 150 timing and tracking observations of visitors 6 years of age and older--50 in each of the three exhibitions, 30 in-depth interviews with visitor groups (comprised of 68 individuals 8 years of age and older), and conducted naturalistic observations of 570 visitors (12 hours total) at four select interactive exhibits providing a more detailed account of visitors' science-related learning in an historical context. Data were collected in May and June 2006. Select findings and their implications are as follows: (1) Visitors stopped most frequently and stayed longest at the interactive exhibits in all three exhibitions, and interviewees confirmed gravitating toward interactive exhibits because they engaged everyone in their family. (2) Observations showed that nearly all visitors with children discussed exhibit content and/or engaged in parent-child coaching interactions/behaviors indicative of multigenerational learning. (3) By actively participating in exhibits, visitors of all ages gained a greater appreciation for the science-related concepts and skills that people used in the past to build and operate canals--an important accomplishment in light of the fact that NCM is a history museum.



Team Members

Randi Korn & Associates, Inc., Evaluator, Randi Korn & Associates, Inc.
National Canal Museum, Contributor


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 0229700
Funding Amount: 1629998

Related URLs

Science and Technology of Canals and Inland Waterways


Audience: Evaluators | Families | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Engineering | Nature of science | Physics | Technology
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits