Lessons from Observations of Educator Support at an Engineer Design Activity

Saturday, September 1, 2007
Resource Type:
Front-End | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Interview Protocol | Observation Protocol | Performance Measure | Evaluation Reports
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Museum and Science Center Programs, Exhibitions, Museum and Science Center Exhibits
Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Youth/Teen (up to 17) | General Public | Educators/Teachers | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators
Education and learning science | Engineering
Museum of Science, Boston, Museum of Science

This study was conducted to document how members of the Design Challenges team currently assist visitors as they engage in engineering design activities as a way of informing the practices of informal technology education at the Museum of Science about the types of scaffolds and supports visitors need when engaging in future engineering design labs in exhibitions. To collect data for this study, educators from the Design Challenges team were observed as they helped visitors complete the Solar Cars activity in Investigate! The Solar Cars activity was not designed as an engineering design lab but as a constructivist activity that engaged visitors in practicing science thinking skills. Nevertheless, it contains many of the characteristics of an engineering design lab making it possible to use this activity for the study. In order to better understand the supports needed for an engineering design activity, the behaviors and discussion of educators and visitors at the activity were recorded. In addition, twenty visitors were interviewed after they completed the activity, and the educators were debriefed at the end of each data collection session. The appendix of this report includes the behavior checklist and exit interview protocols used in the study.

Team Members

Christine ReichChristine ReichEvaluator

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