Factors affecting the use and outcomes of interactive science exhibits in community settings
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This article reports an investigation into the use of 12 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Interactive Science Exhibits, borrowed by two community venues—a regional Hall of Fame and a metropolitan Library—as part of a science center's outreach program. Data were generated through interviews with venue staff, interviews with adults and surveys of children who visited the exhibits, and observations of visitor behavior around the exhibits. All children and most adults enjoyed using the exhibits, and adults thought the exhibits would raise people's (particularly children's) awareness of science and teach scientific ideas. Venue staff were pleased with the outcomes of the exhibit loan; however, the potential educational effectiveness of the exhibits was limited by issues relating to location and the visitors’ agendas. There were problems in attracting people to the exhibits and encouraging visitors, particularly adults, to engage with them. Suggestions are made to increase the effectiveness of using interactive exhibits in community settings.
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