Tinkering With Testing: Understanding How Museum Program Design Advances Engineering Learning Opportunities for Children

Date: 
Thursday, July 8, 2021
Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Making and Tinkering Programs, Museum and Science Center Programs, Exhibitions, Museum and Science Center Exhibits
Audience: 
Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Pre-K Children (0-5) | Families | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators | Learning Researchers
Discipline: 
Education and learning science | Engineering
Organization:
Roosevelt University, Loyola University Chicago, University of Tartu, Northwestern University
Description: 

Using a design-based research approach, we studied ways to advance opportunities for children and families to engage in engineering design practices in an informal educational setting. 213 families with 5–11-year-old children were observed as they visited a tinkering exhibit at a children’s museum during one of three iterations of a program posing an engineering design challenge. Children’s narrative reflections about their experience were recorded immediately after tinkering. Across iterations of the program, changes to the exhibit design and facilitation provided by museum staff corresponded to increased families’ engagement in key engineering practices. In the latter two cycles of the program, families engaged in the most testing, and in turn, redesigning. Further, in the latter cycles, the more children engaged in testing and retesting during tinkering, the more their narratives contained engineering-related content. The results advance understanding and the evidence base for educational practices that can promote engineering learning opportunities for children.

Funder(s): 
NSF
Funding Program: 
Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 
1515788
Funder(s): 
NSF
Funding Program: 
Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 
1515771
Funder(s): 
NSF
Funding Program: 
Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 
1516541
Citation
DOI:
10.3389/fpsyg.2021.689425
Publication Name: 
Frontiers in Psychology
Document:

Team Members

Maria MarcusMaria MarcusAuthor
Diana AcostaDiana AcostaAuthor
Pirko TouguPirko TouguAuthor
David UttalDavid UttalAuthor

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