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Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments
cess, shaped and modified by the perspectives of its members. According to this approach, scientists, too, are part of their own cultural group, in which people share common commitments to questions, research perspectives, ideas of what constitutes a viable scientific stance, and how individuals develop effective arguments.
Tools and artifacts are particularly important aspects of the cultural context for learning in science. Scientists use many specialized tools to measure and represent natural phenomena. In addition, tools and artifacts typically represent the backbone of many learning experiences in science. In a museum, for example, visitors make sense of exhibits through forms of talk and physical activities that are fundamentally shaped by the nature of the materials and technological objects they encounter.
Media also represent a rich layer of learning artifacts. Interactive media, multiplayer video games, and television all provide a specific infrastructure for learning. Information has become broadly available through online resources and communities. In fact, many people routinely develop and share media objects that involve sophisticated learning and social interaction. Research and evaluation during the past 10 years have shown the effectiveness of media, but also highlight their limitations. Recognizing opportunities and limitations, media and brick-and-mortar experiences are becoming increasingly intertwined—for example, a documentary on the history of the telescope is complemented by a similar full-dome planetarium show, an interactive website that features activities for backyard astronomy exploration, and a strategy to link the airing and local release of the shows with outreach activities by amateur astronomy