Exhibit Designs for Girls’ Engagement (EDGE): A Guide to the EDGE Design Attributes

June 1st, 2016

The Exhibit Designs for Girls’ Engagement (EDGE) project is a three-year Exploratorium-run NSF-funded research study that aims to identify the most important design attributes for engaging girls at STEM exhibits. The study identified nearly 100 exhibit design attributes that had the potential for better engaging girls. To test those 100 attributes and their relationship to girls’ engagement, project leaders studied more than 300 physics, engineering, math, and perception exhibits at the Exploratorium, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Arizona Science Center. The purpose of the EDGE research was to winnow that list of 100 potential design attributes to the most important ones for engaging girls.

Here are some findings and recommendations from the study:

For exhibit labels, include:

  • a drawing that gives visitors an idea of how to use the exhibit
  • an image of person to add real-world context

For the exhibit look and feel, include:

  • an object people are familiar with
  • a homey, personal, or homemade feel in the design
  • a playful, whimsical, or humorous feel to foster a feeling of playfulness

For exhibit interactions, include:

  • multiple stations so each person an experience the phenomena
  • a space designed to accommodate three or more people
  • a space that allows visitors to watch others to preview what to do
  • an open-ended exhibit that allows multiple outcomes, activities, or ways to interact

The newly released Guide to the EDGE Design Attributes is designed for practitioners to be able to easily learn about and apply the findings of the EDGE study.