Research: Exhibit Designs for Girls’ Engagement (EDGE)

September 1st, 2013 - August 31st, 2016 | PROJECT

This research project led by the Exploratorium will use a combination of tracking and timing, cluster analysis, and focus groups to seek to answer the research question: To what extent and in what ways do female-responsive designs more effectively engage girls at STEM exhibits? This project addresses the need for more research in this area by pioneering the study of potential female-responsive design (FRD) principles for exhibits across a wide variety of STEM topics and exhibit types. This project includes four phases that will build from the work of the PI that developed an initial Female-Responsive Design (FRD) Framework regarding female engagement and learning in STEM -- based on extensive literature review and practitioner interviews. This project will expand on and validate this FRD Framework, with the ultimate goal of having a set of criteria for female-responsive designs (FRD) that effectively engage girls at STEM exhibits. The four phases of the research project are: Phase 1: Track 1000 boys and girls across three institutions using over 300 physics, engineering, and math exhibits to identify which exhibits engage boys and girls equally, and which are less engaging for girls. Phase 2: A panel of experts and girl advisors identify additional female-responsive design principles, expanding on those identified to date in literature and practice. Phase 3: Combining results from the first two phases, the third phase employs statistical analyses to reveal the most effective combinations of design principles for engaging girls across a variety of exhibits. Phase 4: This qualitative phase conducts focus groups with girls to explore how the final FRD Framework works to better engage them, and how their learning differs at exhibits that exemplify the principles in the Framework.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

2014 Poster - Exhibit Designs for Girls' Engagement
2016 Poster - EDGE: Exhibit Design for Girls' Engagement
Exhibit Designs for Girlsā€™ Engagement: A Guide to the EDGE Design Attributes
Creating a Femaleā€Responsive Design Framework for STEM exhibits
Exhibit Designs for Girlsā€™ Engagement (EDGE)
EDGE Design Guide, Webinar, Articles, and Coding Scheme
How Do Children Engage with STEM Museum Exhibits? Results from a Large Observational Study
Designing Exhibits to Engage Girls
Straight From the Girls: The Importance of Incorporating the EDGE Design Attributes at Exhibits
EDGE: A Guide for Practicing Gender Equity in Exhibit Design

Team Members

Toni Dancstep, Principal Investigator, Exploratorium
Veronica Garcia-Luis, Co-Principal Investigator, Exploratorium
Cecilia Garibay, Evaluator, Garibay Group


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1323806
Funding Amount: 977830


Access and Inclusion: Women and Girls
Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Education and learning science | Engineering | General STEM | Mathematics | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits