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Time to bridge the gap. Interacting with real objects. Paulo Gama Mota. ECSITE – TOULOUSE 2012 E. Communicating science. In the last decades, museums and science centres have concentrated in explaining and rendering scientific concepts accessible. Objects were set aside then.

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Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Time to bridge the gap.

Interacting with real objects

Paulo Gama Mota

ECSITE – TOULOUSE 2012E


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Communicating science

In the last decades, museums and science centres have concentrated in explaining and rendering scientific concepts accessible.

Objects were set aside then.


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Communicating science

The contact with the real objects triggers imagination and wonder in a way that is not achieved when only concepts are presented.

Objects from scientific collections are real and concrete traits that establish a direct relationship with scientific discovery. Nothing replaces the direct contact with them.

It is now time to bridge the gap.


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Communicatingscienceusingobjects

  • I address two situations where we attempted to generate interaction and understanding of the science behind the objects, their intrinsic value and creating a unique experience for visitors.


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

The Science Museum of University of Coimbra

  • Secrets of light and matter – an interactive exhibition

  • 18th Century physics cabinet – a unique historical room


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Secrets of light and matter – new permanent exhibition

Combining objects with concepts


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

The exhibition combines stories about the objects and their function with interactive displays that illustrate the principles or replicate phenomena studied with those objects


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

The principle of spectrometry as a barcode of natural elements is presented and described using old spectrometers and demonstrated through several interactive displays.


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Visitors can use a spectrometer to evaluate by themselves that different elements have different spectra.


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

The concept of ‘barcode’ of elements is expanded in an interactive Periodic Table.


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Vision

What it is like to have a lens?


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Vision

And many lenses?


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Physics cabinet


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

The collection of instruments of the physics cabinet is an exquisite and unique one


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Telling stories in order to entice the visitor’s imagination on the function and uses of the historical objects


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Did visitors prefer the historical or the interactive?

References to objects and interactive displays from our exhibitions reveal that items from the interactive exhibition were more often recalled than those from the physics cabinet.

Questionnaire

N=281

Age: 11-18;

Mean = 12.9 y


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Best remembered object

Objects referred by students were those highlighted by the guides.


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Best remembered object

The fraudulent balance (unequal length arms) is highlighted by the guides through stories of its use.

This focus the visitors’ attention and enhances their imagination, which then favors the recall of these objects.


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

What did I find more…

Visitors clearly highlighted the objects as the most positive aspect of their visit.

They also found the lack of interactivity as somewhat negative.


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Concluding

  • Interactive displays can generate new fruitful dialogues with objects.

  • Ingeneral interactivescatch more attention thanobjects.

  • Visitors appreciate the interaction with real objects.

  • Historical objects do elicit learning and favor mental reenactment of function and use.


Ecsite toulouse 2012 e

Thank you


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