Collaborative Research: Advancing language research and outreach in a language museum

Date: 
Wednesday, September 1, 2021 to Friday, February 28, 2025
Resource Type:
Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Museum and Science Center Programs, Exhibitions, Museum and Science Center Exhibits
Audience: 
Undergraduate/Graduate Students | General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals
Discipline: 
Social science and psychology
Organization:
University of Maryland, College Park, Deanna Gagne, Howard University
Description: 

This award is funded with support from NSF's program for Advancing Informal STEM Education.

This project develops a partnership between language researchers and Planet Word, a new museum devoted to language in Washington D.C., to engage museum visitors in scientific research and outreach. Interested museum visitors from all ages and backgrounds are invited to participate in behavioral research studies on a range of language-related topics. This "living language laboratory" of interactive studies includes accompanying educational demonstrations. These activities will lead to the development of infrastructure and best practices that will allow future language researchers to engage with the public at Planet Word and other similar sites.

The project enhances scientific understanding by engaging visitors in activities that expose them to active science about language as a part of their visit to the museum. For example, the research examines topics from understanding what makes certain American Sign Language signs more learnable, to why it is easier to understand people we know rather than strangers, to whether we think differently when we are reading a text message compared to reading more formal writing. In doing so, the project raises the profile of linguistics among the general public and promotes scientifically informed attitudes about language. The project also provides key opportunities to disseminate research findings of interest to the public and to promote greater interest in STEM topics among museum visitors, as well as student trainees and museum staff. The project creates educational and research opportunities for students, who will be trained in a hands-on course, and will gain first-hand experience with research and outreach in a museum setting. Through the collaborative partnership of researchers from University of Maryland, Howard University, and Gallaudet University, the project broadens participation of underrepresented minority students in the language sciences, seeking to diversify the pipeline of scholars continuing in careers in the language sciences and related STEM fields.

Funder(s): 
NSF
Funding Program: 
Build and Broaden, AISL, Linguistics
Award Number: 
2116959
Funding Amount: 
$439,291.90
Funder(s): 
NSF
Funding Program: 
Build and Broaden, Linguistics
Award Number: 
2116811
Funder(s): 
NSF
Funding Program: 
Build and Broaden, Linguistics
Award Number: 
2116932

Team Members

Charlotte VaughnCharlotte VaughnPrincipal Investigator
Yi Ting HuangYi Ting HuangCo-Principal Investigator
Deanna GagneDeanna GagnePrincipal Investigator
Patrick PlummerPatrick PlummerPrincipal Investigator

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