A fully-automated video-based data collection system has been installed in a public museum/aquarium for research on life-long free-choice learning in an everyday context. The system links video observation tools, interactive computer-based kiosks, and face detection and recognition software with a research control and content management system that allows for data collection as well as customization of visitor experiences. This paper provides a brief overview of the system as well as some of the initial research projects being carried out by study staff. Researchers are studying family interaction with and learning from physical interactives, digital display platforms, live animal interactions, and staff facilitation. Initial findings from the early phases of this four-year, nationally funded project are presented including data on understanding of complex scientific visualizations projected on digital spheres as well as findings from video observation of volunteer docent practice. Three current research projects involving the use of multi-touch tables, interactive wave tanks and live animal touching experiences are also described in the context of the larger informal science education field.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

The free-choice learning and Cyberlaboratory
Using cutting-edge technology to build capacity at the edge of science and science communication

Shawn Rowe   Oregon State University

Susan Brien   Oregon State University

Mark Farley   Oregon State University

Jenny East   Oregon State University

A fully-automated video-based data collection system has been installed in a public museum/aquarium for research on life-long free-choice learning in an everyday context. The system links video observation tools, interactive computer-based kiosks, and face detection and recognition software with a research control and content management system that allows for data collection as well as customization of visitor experiences. This paper provides a brief overview of the system as well as some of the initial research projects being carried out by study staff. Researchers are studying family interaction with and learning from physical interactives, digital display platforms, live animal interactions, and staff facilitation. Initial findings from the early phases of this four-year, nationally funded project are presented including data on understanding of complex scientific visualizations projected on digital spheres as well as findings from video observation of volunteer docent practice. Three current research projects involving the use of multi-touch tables, interactive wave tanks and live animal touching experiences are also described in the context of the larger informal science education field.

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