In this full-scale research and development project, Oregon State University (OSU), Oregon Sea Grant (OSG) and the Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitors Center (HMSCVC) is designing, developing, implementing, researching and evaluating a cyberlaboratory in a museum setting. The cyberlaboratory will provide three earth and marine science learning experiences with research and evaluation interwoven with visitor experiences. The research platform will focus on: 1) a climate change exhibit that will enable research on identity, values and opinion; 2) a wave tank exhibit that will enable research on group dynamics and problem solving in interactive engineering challenges; and 3) remote sensing exhibits that will enable research on visitor interactions through the use of real data and simulations.
This project will provide the informal science educaton community with a suite of tools to evaluate learning experiences with emerging technologies using an iterative process. The team will also make available to the informal science community their answers to the following research questions: For the climate change exhibit, "To what extent does customizing content delivery based on real-time visitor input promote learning?" For the wave tank exhibit, "To what extent do opportunities to reflect on and share experiences promote STEM reasoning processes at a build-and-test exhibit?" For the data-sensing exhibit, "Can visitors' abilities to explain or use visualizations be improved by shaping their visual searches of images?" Mixed-methods using interviews, surveys, behavioral instruments, and participant observations will be used to evaluate the overall program.
Approximately 60-100 informal science education professionals will discuss and test the viability of the exhibit's evaluation tools. More than 150,000 visitors, along with community members and local middle and high school students, will have the opportunity to participate in the learning experiences at the HMSCVC. This work contributes to the fields of cyberlearning and informal science education. This project provides the informal science education field with important knowledge about learning, customized content delivery and evaluation tools that are used in informal science settings.