Naive Knowledge and the Design of Science Museum Exhibits

November 1st, 1987 - October 31st, 1990 | PROJECT

The investigation of naive conceptions of science has many implications for both teaching and learning. The predominant model for past investigations has been with school children or within very formal settings. Extending investigations of misconceptions to informal settings is the challenge of this research. Museum visitors' misconceptions about two topics, gravity and mechanical advantage, will be recorded through a variety of interview formats. Twenty-five persons from each of the age ranges 9-11, 12-14, 15-18, and college students/adults will be interviewed. Information from the interview will be used to modify the current exhibit or to build new prototypes. The research will determine if a modification can be made that results in individuals moving from their previous misconceptions toward a correct conceptualization of the concepts. This research will document what individuals actually learn from museum exhibits and how "front end evaluation" can be used to redesign exhibits for maximum concept learning. The proposed research is challenging and has the potential of adding significant information to science education research on misconceptions. The principal investigator is highly respected in the field of museum education and the associated staff and consultants are the top scholars in their respective fields.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

Minda Borun, Principal Investigator, Franklin Institute


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Research in Teaching & Learning
Award Number: 8751396
Funding Amount: 129803


Audience: Adults | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Evaluators | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Education and learning science | Physics
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits