Understanding science centre engagement in making personal connections

Nurhaya Baniyamin

Abstract


The paper highlights selected renowned science centre practices that used to encourage visitor participation and immersion. Visitors act as celebrants of science information in an edutainment context, motivated by a quest for social experiences. This study review multiple learning theories underpinning how visitors learn and how these theories impact science centre’s exhibition design efforts. Using the recent experience of Science Centre Singapore, The Mind Museum, Philippines and Questacon, Australia as case-studies, the qualitative method provided a comparison of approaches across multiple institutions.

The study discusses the responses in order to explore the extent to which the process occurs. Understanding how and why these institutions make certain exhibition design decisions will provide insight into how exhibitions might foster changes in visitor attitudes, knowledge, belief structures and curiosity. Such insights may be applicable to support informal learning and visitor diversity in other museums.

The paper argues for making personal connections as primary themes that emerged from the rich and descriptive data. The themes represent central values and important recurring concepts which strike at the core of the exhibition design process. Visitors’ create a more amorphous connection to science information through play and creativity. How does science centre nurture personal connections? How do they support quality visitor experience and informal learning intentions? Answers to these questions are the essence of this paper.


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