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Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments
Like the designers of Cell Lab, Thogersen’s team also considered ways to spur learning in developing The Mind exhibition. In doing so, this exhibition illustrates the effectiveness of displaying concepts in multiple ways and creating a unique set of interactive activities.
While exploring The Mind, visitors were stimulated by the variety of options available to them (Strand 1). As they engaged with individual exhibits, they were introduced to content knowledge, some of which was probably new to many (Strand 2).
One of the most interesting features of this exhibition is the way it became a social process, largely because many of the stations were designed for two people. What’s more, Thogersen noted that the learning was even more powerful if the two people knew each other. The importance of the social nature of learning is explored in more detail in the next chapter.
Both of these examples illustrate how science museums have incorporated strategies that are supported by research to develop experiences that foster learning. These same strategies can be put to use in programs, which continue over an extended period of time. In fact, experiences that occur over a longer period of time can provide opportunities to encourage learning across the six strands.
The following case study illustrates the learning that occurs in the context of a program. This experience involves teens working with younger children as part of a program at the St. Louis Science Center.