Scientists are called to take their research outside the academia. In order to do so, scientists are likely to collaborate with communicators and informal science education settings. This study evaluated the case of a natural history museum exhibit, which connects the scientists featured in the exhibit, the communicators producing the exhibit and the visitors attending the exhibit. The evaluation aims to understand what are the variables at play when communicators mediate between researchers and the public.

Twenty scientists, ten communicators and 40 museum visitors participated in the study via email surveys and short interviews at the exhibit. Results indicate that the exhibit is well received by museum visitors and that the goals set for the exhibit are accomplished. Museum visitors walked from the exhibit with basic awareness of the research conducted at the University of Florida and its implications. In addition, researchers and communicators are satisfied with their participation but there are still opportunities for improvement in the interaction between these two groups. Recommendations include strength feedback before and after the participation of researchers, promote the exhibit in STEM departments to motivate more researchers to participate and design and technical suggestions for each of the exhibit component. Results from this study are useful to informed future efforts in museums and other science communication efforts.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Informing practice from research
A museum exhibit evaluation

Luz Oviedo   Florida Museum of Natural History

Betty Dunckel   Florida Museum of Natural History

Dale Johnson   Florida Museum of Natural History

Bruce Fadden   Florida Museum of Natural History

Debbie Treise   University of Florida

Scientists are called to take their research outside the academia. In order to do so, scientists are likely to collaborate with communicators and informal science education settings. This study evaluated the case of a natural history museum exhibit, which connects the scientists featured in the exhibit, the communicators producing the exhibit and the visitors attending the exhibit. The evaluation aims to understand what are the variables at play when communicators mediate between researchers and the public.

Twenty scientists, ten communicators and 40 museum visitors participated in the study via email surveys and short interviews at the exhibit. Results indicate that the exhibit is well received by museum visitors and that the goals set for the exhibit are accomplished. Museum visitors walked from the exhibit with basic awareness of the research conducted at the University of Florida and its implications. In addition, researchers and communicators are satisfied with their participation but there are still opportunities for improvement in the interaction between these two groups. Recommendations include strength feedback before and after the participation of researchers, promote the exhibit in STEM departments to motivate more researchers to participate and design and technical suggestions for each of the exhibit component. Results from this study are useful to informed future efforts in museums and other science communication efforts.

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