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Abstract Title: Museum-based physics education research through research-practice partnerships (RPPs)
Abstract: MOXI is an interactive science center focused on physical science topics. MOXI's exhibits and education program are informed by Physics Education Research and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). MOXI is an outstanding laboratory for research on how people learn physics through interactive experiences and how best to support this learning. However, conducting research in public spaces with diverse audiences differs from classroom based research. These differences provide both opportunities and challenges. Effective research and program design requires multiple types of expertise including content, research design, and informal environments. In MOXI's first two years of operation, we have conducted research across a wide variety of participants and topics through a research-practice partnership (RPP) model. This session will focus on establishing RPPs and methodological considerations when conducting research in informal science education settings such as interactive science centers.
Abstract Type: Poster Symposium
Session Time: Parallel Sessions Cluster II
Room: Cascade C
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Danielle Harlow
University of California Santa Barbara
and Co-Presenter(s)
Ron Skinner, Alexandria Hansen, Alexandria Muller, Meghan Macias, Jasmine McBeath, Jasmine Marckwordt, Javier Pulgar, Alexis Spina, Erik Arevalo, Krista Lucas

Symposium Specific Information

Moderator: Danielle Harlow
Presentation 1 Title: Educating informal educators to facilitate learning through practice-based facilitation.
Presentation 1 Authors: Danielle Harlow, & Ron Skinner
Presentation 1 Abstract: Interactive science centers are moving towards focusing on the visitor experience rather than on disseminating information. Moving from the expected content-based learning to the less directed learning through exploration requires changing visitors' mindsets not just about the role of a museum, but also about science - from viewing science as a collection of facts and ideas to viewing science as a way of thinking and engaging with phenomena that can be developed and practiced. Through a Research-Practitioner partnership, we developed a year-long museum educator training and certificate program designed to train floor staff to engage visitors in facilitation that engages visitors in the practices of science and engineering. Continuous research on the museum educators' learning and visitor experience informs iterative program development. We discuss the methods of researching museum educators facilitation and impact on the visitor experience.
Presentation 2 Title: Magnetism, light, structures, and rotational motion: Mixed-methods study of visitors engaging with four exhibits at a science museum
Presentation 2 Authors: Meghan Macias, Jasmine Nation, Jasmine Marckwordt, Krista Lucas, Erik Arevalo
Presentation 2 Abstract: This poster describes mixed-methods research conducted at four exhibits by four teams of graduate students and museum practitioners through a research practice partnership (RPP) model at an interactive science museum in southern California. Two projects modified or manipulated the exhibits or facilitation strategies to assess the impact on guest stay time at the exhibit. These focused on Keva planks, which small wooden planks guests can use to make structures and Turn Tables, a rotating table that visitors place objects on. Two other projects used mixed methods including qualitative observations to analyze guest behaviors when interacting with each exhibit. One focused on ways that visitors engaged with Magnetic Islands, a small magnetic structure guests can attach magnetic washers to and the other focused on early childhood interactions with Light Patterns, a life-sized color peg board.
Presentation 3 Title: Developing interactive activities about complex topics for all ages: Quantum ideas in interactive science centers
Presentation 3 Authors: Jasmine Marckwordt & Ali Muller
Presentation 3 Abstract: Quantum computers, which depend on quantum properties to solve complex problems, have the potential to transform the way we solve problems as diverse as data encryption, finding cures for cancer, and solving world hunger. The goals of the NSF-funded research project EPiQC include activities and resources to help the public develop ideas related to quantum computing. As part of this goal, we developed interactive activities to introduce ideas that will help the public grapple with concepts that will build a foundation for thinking about quantum computing. These activities are appropriate for museums, science nights, and other outreach events that serve an audience of varied ages and backgrounds. These activities developed through designed-based research by an interdisciplinary team that includes computer scientists, education researchers, and museum staff. Iterative development of each activity was informed by the trials with visitors of various ages and educational backgrounds at an interactive science center.
Presentation 4 Title: Design-based research project to develop a science and engineering education program linking field trip experiences to classroom experiences.
Presentation 4 Authors: Ali Muller, Ron Skinner, Danielle Harlow
Presentation 4 Abstract: The Next Generation Science Standards have incorporated engineering standards, requiring K-12 teachers to teach engineering. Unfortunately, teachers are ill-prepared and have little comfort to introduce these unfamiliar complex topics into their classrooms. The University of California at Santa Barbara and MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation partnered up to tackle this problem and bring physics-related engineering activities to teachers through the MOXI Engineering Explorations program. This poster will explore the development process and the research methods used to evaluate the programming including key challenges that arose from working with a museum outreach program. These include the collection of permission from multiple institutions, tracking program effectiveness over different facilitators, time constraints, and more.
Presentation 5 Title: Fabricating fidgets with special education students. Study of middle school students with disabilities designing, fabricating, and testing fidget tools
Presentation 5 Authors: Alexandria Hansen
Presentation 5 Abstract: This poster describes the design process of 5 middle school students diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Students were tasked with designing and fabricating a personalized fidget-a small hand-held object to use in a classroom with the goal of increasing focus-by following the process of engineering design described in the Next Generation Science Standards. Students teamed with a local science museum to access tools and expertise. Analysis of student interviews and recorded design sessions revealed that students accurately defined the problem and design constraints. Further, despite issues in measurement precision, students successfully optimized their design solution over time through multiple rounds of revision.
Presentation 6 Title: Math and Making. Study of visitors exploring mathematics through knot tying, string art, tessellations, and minimal surface bubbles.
Presentation 6 Authors: Alexis Spina, Javier Pulgar, Jasmine Nation
Presentation 6 Abstract: The Math and Making poster describes an innovative workshop held at a local science museum in southern California, featuring four week-long maker activities designed for children grades K-8. Throughout the workshop, students were introduced to the behind-the-scenes mathematics of real-world experiences, such as concepts in geometry through string art and understanding surface area by creating bubbles. Student participation in these activities was through open exploration instead of a guided lesson, although facilitators were there to assist when needed. We examined how students interacted with the maker math activities, and the connection these activities had to the Eight Mathematical Practices established by the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Preliminary results show how the math practices were present in the design and student uptake of the activities, providing insight into how to structure and implement math lessons that are interactive and relevant to children's everyday lives.
Presentation 7 Title: Introducing Children to Computer Coding in Virtual Reality in an Interactive Science Center
Presentation 7 Authors: David Sanosa, Jim Gribble
Presentation 7 Abstract: We developed and tested a virtual reality coding environment intended to provide a new way to engage children in learning computer coding. In order for meaningful learning to occur in a virtual reality (VR) environment, designers and facilitators must pay special attention to the learner's understanding of how to interact with a VR application. This environment was tested in the interactive science center. We investigated facilitation techniques and children's interactions. The research design and methods are applicable across other content areas such as VR experiences to develop physics understanding.