Open Exhibits - Research - Papers



The Evolution of the Science Museum


Evidence for the impact of the centers on science education has largely been through evaluations of individual exhibitions and education projects, but field-wide impact evaluations have been increasingly prevalent. For example, ongoing studies of the impacts of informal science learning in general, and science museums in particular, are being encouraged by the NSF-supported Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education and collected on the InformalScience website, The most comprehensive study to date was published in 2009 by the National Research Council.8 A National Academies press release announcing the report gave some of the NRC’s key conclusions:

”Learning is broader than schooling, and informal science environments and experiences play a crucial role,” said Philip Bell, co-chair of the committee that wrote the report, and associate professor of learning sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle. “These experiences can kick-start and sustain long-term interests that involve sophisticated learning. Think of the child who sees dinosaur skeletons for the first time on a family trip to a natural history museum, and then goes on to buy dinosaur models and books, do Web searches about dinosaurs, write school reports on the subject, and on and on.”