Going APE: Fostering Active Prolonged Engagement at Science Museum Exhibits
The Exploratorium will develop exhibit designs that encourage visitors to become more cognitively engaged with exhibits -- to use exhibits as tools for self-directed exploration, rather than as authoritative demonstrations. To do this, the staff is drawing on new work in the fields of education, visitor research, human factors engineering, computer interface design and interactive exhibit development at other museums. The Exploratorium proposes to conduct evaluative research and exhibit development that maximizes possibilities for visitor-authored questions, activity and discovery, or active, prolonged engagement (APE). The project team plans to create 15 new exhibits and renovate an additional 15 exhibits in the physical sciences. The team will strategically position the exhibits to support active, prolonged engagement throughout the collection. Although the project focuses on physical science -- the most fundamental part of the Exploratorium exhibit collection -- the results will apply to exhibits in nearly all science disciplines.