Under the Arctic : Digging into Permafrost Summary Evaluation Report

December 21st, 2018 | EVALUATION

Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost, a 2,000 square foot museum exhibition, engaged visitors in real and simulated experiences related to the nature of permafrost, permafrost research, and the impact of climate change on permafrost. Development of the exhibition was part of a larger National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning grant, Hot Times in Cold Places: The Hidden World of Permafrost, awarded to the University of Alaska Fairbanks in partnership with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Two related evaluation studies led us to our conclusions. First, we carried out a tracked visitor study of 99 family groups that included children between the ages of 9 and 14, which included three data collection methods: (1) cued visitor observations, (2) visitor audio recordings, and (3) written surveys. Second, we carried out a survey study using 625 written surveys completed by both children and adults.

We structured the evaluation findings around the three main questions we used to guide this Under the Arctic exhibition evaluation: (1) To what extent do visitors engage with Under the Arctic exhibition as planned? (2) To what extent do visitors understand the big idea: Thawing permafrost changes Arctic landscapes and our global climate? (3) In what ways does the exhibition affect visitors’ perceptions of the ability of community solutions and/or policies to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate and/or adapt to climate change impacts? We have integrated findings from the observations, recordings, and surveys.



Team Members

Victoria Coats, Principal Investigator, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)
Matthew Sturm, Principal Investigator, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Angela Larson, Author, Goldstream Group
Kelly Kealy, Contributor, Goldstream Group
Laura Conner, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Alaska Fairbanks


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1423550
Funding Amount: $1,560,405

Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1423587
Funding Amount: $1,389,565

Related URLs

The Hidden World of Permafrost


Audience: Adults | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Evaluators | Families | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists
Discipline: Climate | Ecology | forestry | agriculture
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits