Renee Göthberg. Supervisor: Lars Broman Local supervisor: Sara Bagge. Navet s Boxes - PDF

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Master Thesis in Science Communication Renee Göthberg Supervisor: Lars Broman Local supervisor: Sara Bagge Navet s Boxes an Evaluation of the Post-Visit Loan Service at a Science Centre in Borås HDa-SC-08

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Master Thesis in Science Communication Renee Göthberg Supervisor: Lars Broman Local supervisor: Sara Bagge Navet s Boxes an Evaluation of the Post-Visit Loan Service at a Science Centre in Borås HDa-SC-08 2 3 Contents Abstract..4 Keywords 4 Acknowledgements 5 1. Science Centres and Pedagogy Science Centre History Why Study Science? Science Centre Pedagogy Pre- and Post-visit Work Loan Services Navet Navet s Themes A Visit to Navet Aim and Methods Research Questions and Aim Methods Results Questionnaires Comments From Teachers Interviews School A School B School C School D Pedagogues Conclusions and Discussion 39 References 43 Appendices..47 A.1. Example of Pre-visit Assignment (Aviation, translated from Swedish by Renée Göthberg). 48 A.2. Example of Pre-visit Assignment (Math, translated from Swedish by Renée Göthberg)..50 B. Lists of Contents of the Boxes. 52 C. Questionnaire (original Swedish and English translation)..54 4 Abstract Many pedagogues believe science centres to be a good complement to the more formal school teaching. For a visit to a science centre to be as educational as possible, there is a need for pre-visit information of some sort, a guided visit, and post-visit work. Many science centres offer loan services of different kinds. At Navet, a science centre in Borås, teachers can borrow boxes with experiments connected to the different themes they provide. The experiments are supposed to be a continuation of the visit and help settle the knowledge gained during the visit. This thesis is an evaluation of how the boxes function in the schools, and what the teachers think of them. The study was conducted through questionnaires and interviews with both teachers and the staff at Navet. The results of the study are very positive. Many teachers have been involved with Navet from the very beginning and they see a visit to Navet as an integrated part of their teaching. Some boxes work better than others and some might need clearer information, but overall the teachers see the boxes as timesavers, as a way to vary their teaching more easily, and as a help for teachers not specialized in mathematics and science. Keywords: science centre, informal and formal teaching, loan services, summative evaluation, pedagogical dramatization, stationary experiments, questionnaires, interviews. 5 Acknowledgements I would like to thank Lars Broman at Dalarna University for his opinions during the writing process of this thesis and for giving me the opportunity of finishing it in my own pace. An even bigger thanks goes out to everyone at Navet, for taking me in and letting me be a part of their work and lives, and for teaching me so much about science centre pedagogy. My local supervisor, Sara Bagge, deserves a lot of credit for taking on the workload of helping me in addition to her work at Navet. A special little thank you goes to Ami Ljungström, for teaching me how to juggle. I found it to be a great way of relaxing when studying was hard. And last, but not least this thesis would have been nothing without the teachers who took time to answer questionnaires and participated in my focus groups. A big thanks to every one. 6 1. Science Centres and Pedagogy In this chapter the history, definition, activities and educational programmes of science centres will be presented. This chapter also contains arguments for the importance of science studies and the role science centres can and do play in our society, and the pedagogy attached to it. 1.1 Science Centre History Science centres are exhibition and activity centres with the purpose of popularising science and that strives to learning through interactive objects and demonstrations. NSCF = Nordisk Science Center Forbund, In The Museum Experience, Falk & Dierking (1992) define museums as historical homes and sites; science and technology centers; aquaria, zoos, and botanical gardens; as well as the traditional art, history, and natural history museums. Museums were from the beginning just about collections and research, but have now become more of institutions for public learning, and also viewed by the public as such. Science centres, or science areas, do not have to be confined to a building. Aadu Ott (2000) mentions that one can also use a whole city to combine a display of both technology, history and culture. One can also make use of recreation areas to build exhibits. According to Salmi (1993): A science centre is located [ ] where science, technology and education all meet. In other words, a science centre should combine the features of these three. Some science centres only deal with natural and physical sciences, but they can also include humanities, history, psychology, social sciences and linguistics. By including the other sciences as well, science centres can get visitors that are not too familiar with natural sciences, but need a wider perspective to understand the place of science in their lives. A science centre s agenda is, in general, based on the principle of empiric scientific method; the visitors should be able to touch and experiment on their own to find out how things work. Francis Bacon (b d 1626) was one of the first developers of the empiric scientific method and the oldest plan for a science centre can be found in his writings. He made a proposal for a museum of discoveries and a gallery of the portraits of great inventors, and the spirit of empiricism is there to be found. The purpose of this centre was to show the public the importance of mechanics and sciences, and in doing this, Bacon wanted to combine the worlds of art and science. René Descartes (b 1596 d 1650) also made a proposal for a museum that, unfortunately, was not realised. The plan was to present scientific instruments and mechanical models. The establishment of one of the first science museums: the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in Paris in 1794, can be derived from Descartes writings and plans, that had fortunately survived for over a century (Salmi 1993). 7 Aadu Ott (2000) points out that one of the reasons why the Conservatoire des Arts et Métieres was founded, was that the French Revolution led to a will of the people to get more educated. This museum then served as a model for three later science museums: Science Museum in London, Deutsches Museum in Munich and the Palais de la Decouvert in Paris. These, in their turn, inspired to the Technical Museum in Stockholm. The Deutsches Museum, or the Deutsches Museum für Meisterwerke in Wissenschaft und Teknik as it was called at first, was built to glorify German technology and German science. But it was also a place for gifted, but poor, young people to read scientific literature and study technological devices. In that way, those who couldn t afford to study at the university got a chance to educate themselves. The museum was thus typically hands-on and meant to display technological progress and spread knowledge. Gottfried Leibniz s (b 1646 d 1716) idea went many steps further. His plan for a science exhibition could be something thought of today. He wanted not only to demonstrate scientific phenomena to the public, but also educate them and make them enjoy the show. Leibniz included many practical examples of this: the Magic Lantern, optical illusions, large-scale globe models, muscles, bones and nerves etc. Another revolutionary thing with Leibniz s idea is the fact that he intended the exhibition to be for children and, furthermore, to be used hands-on by them. Three hundred years before the first modern science centres, Leibniz outlined the educational principles of them. In 1768, The American Society for Promoting and Propagating Useful Knowledge was founded, as a result of Benjamin Franklins (b 1706 d 1790) work. He too emphasised the popularisation of science using models and exhibitions. The Swedish engineer and inventor Christian Polhem (b d 1752), who designed hydraulic elevators for the mines of Falun and planned the Svea channel, wanted to open an exhibition of technology and machines. The exhibition was to be linked to his laboratory. Unfortunately it did not become a reality, but the models that were donated, became the Royal Model Chamber exhibition a few years after Polhem s death (Salmi 1993). In addition to prominent and open-minded scientists, the roots of science museums are also to be found in the numerous exhibition cases of the 17 th and 18 th centuries. Often these exhibitions were collections of technical and scientific models, owned by upper class people. In many countries, the museums aims have been to present their country s glorious history and art with the portraits of its monarchs, and so, royal families and wealthy rulers have played an important part of the foundation of museums (Salmi 1993, Hein 2002). Also Bennet (1995) points out that these collections have not always been open to a broader public. The collections (whether of works of art, curiosities or objects of scientific interest) have, during the ages, gone under a variety of names (museums, studioli, cabinets des curieux, Wunderkammern, Kunstkammern) and have had a variety of functions (demonstrations of royal power, symbols of aristocratic or mercantile status, instruments of learning). For some time they all constituted socially enclosed spaces to which access was remarkably restricted. So much so that, in the most extreme cases, access was available to only one person: the ruler. In the late 18 th and early 19 th centuries these collections dispersed and were placed in contexts less enclosed. In Britain, the development of popularisation of science took a different path. During the 18 th century, scientists and inventors travelled the country giving lectures. These lectures were, although part of the formal university teaching, quite lively. Soon they became a recurrent part of all kinds of popular gatherings and fairs. When the lectures left the universities, the demonstrations became even livelier, for example by means of models, motors, air and hydraulic pumps etc. In an industrialised society, the public wants to know about the progress 8 made and how great their society is in comparison to the earlier stages (Salmi 1993). Science and industry reshaped people s lives and through urbanisation and governments taking over some responsibility for education, museums became institutions that could educate the masses (Hein 2002). This spirit gave birth to the Great World Expositions, which presented the latest technical and industrial achievements. The presentations of the scientific progress were often supported by means of art and with a great sense of nationalism. For example, Deutsches Museum in Munich has its roots in the Great Exhibitions. Still in the 1980s and 1990s halls and exhibits originally made for the world expos are used by science centres (Salmi 1993). Tim Caulton (1999) sees two, more recent, origins for the modern hands-on museums and science centres; the first children s museums in late 19 th century USA, and major traditional science museums in early 20 th century Europe and North America. It is not hard to see forbearers to interactive exhibits in the industrial engines at the Deutsches Museum, chemical demonstrations at the Palais de la Découverte, simulated coalmine at the Chicago Museum of science and Industry and a walk-through beating heart at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Children s Gallery at the Science Museum in London, which opened in 1931, is one of the first science centres. It was originally planned to be an introduction to the museum, but the younger visitors found it so interesting, with its working models and dioramas, that it soon became a part of its own. The Deutsches Museum and the Childrens Gallery inspired Frank Oppenheimer, and in 1969 he opened the Exploratorium in San Francisco. It was a completely new kind of institution with a truly hands-on approach, and it is still one of the best science centres in the world. Its founding made way for several more science centres in North America. Through the Exploratorium, other science centres, or science centres to be, can get cook books that helps them get better or get started with well proven exhibits (Caulton 1999). According to Ian Simmons (1996) hands-on science, as we know it today, originated from the Exploratorium. Museums thus originate from private collections not open to the public, and the collections have always been the most important parts of the museum. But this approach does not work as well in an age of mass-communication media, where the attention span of youths is said to be shortened by the steady stream of image bombardment. So the museums must change, or risk losing their audience to entertainment parks for example. One way of doing this is to use entertainment as a stepping-stone to education. For learning to occur, the visitor must be open minded and have fun, and by the use of drama, interaction and play, the visit to a museum or science centre becomes more enjoyable, and visitors will remember better (Roberts 1997). The Western economies have become more entertainment-based than before. Consumers are always looking for goods or places that can give them a lot of fun for their money, even in areas that used to be work- and chore-related. Science centres have made some museums rethink their more traditional ways of displaying, with their more lively and engaging exhibitions of science. There is a risk though, that the content of an exhibition falls in the background to make way for interactivity, which does not make a good exhibition (Hughes 2001). Museum visitors in our mass-media society are no longer satisfied with simply looking at dioramas and reading texts. They lose interest quickly and want to be actively engaged in the exhibits, and even more important - be entertained while learning (Caulton 1999). Science centres are not only about exhibits and experiments. They can also offer training and courses for teachers, libraries, loan services, out-reach programmes etc. They are not only about teaching, but just as important is their function of making people more motivated to 9 learn, more interested in science and more courageous in trying to understand things that might seem too difficult (Hooper-Greenhill 1994). 1.2 Why Study Science? There are a number of reasons for studying science and many researchers and pedagogues believe that science and the understanding of science have to become a part of every person s normal day-to-day life, not just something that is studied in school and then forgotten. Coombs (1993) says that: The aim is not solely to produce more scientists and technologists; it is also to produce a new generation of citizens who are scientifically literate and thus better prepared to function in a world that is increasingly influenced by science and technology. In pursuing this aim, new forms of education are actively sought. For example, informal, outof-school programmes at museums and science centres used, and co-operations between formal and informal educational institutions are becoming more and more common. For someone to learn, and not just remember, the facts need a meaningful context. The context can be made meaningful in several ways. For proper learning to occur, the topic must become relevant to the learner and have a place in the life of the learner. The process of learning must also be structured so that the learner can fully understand the topic (Salmi 1993). Svein Sjøberg (2000) presents four arguments for studying science in our society: Economics science studies can get us better jobs; and a country with highly educated inhabitants is considered a high-status country. Usefulness science helps to understand our world and things in it. Democracy it is important to understand difficult questions for example when voting in a referendum. Culture science is irrevocably a part of our culture. The English researcher Lucas (in Ott 2000, p 10) has an opinion very similar to SjØberg s: One of the justifications often given for science education is the production of a scientifically literate public. An analysis of scientific literacy shows three types: Practical scientific literacy. This has that kind of scientific and technical knowledge that can be put to immediate help to solve practical problems. Civic scientific literacy. This is to enable the citizen to become more aware of science and science related issues so that he and his representatives can bring common sense to bear upon those issues. An example is the direct public participation in decisions about nuclear power. Cultural scientific literacy. This is motivated by a desire to know something about science as a major human achievement. Even though science is a part of our society, there is a need for more education. But maybe it isn t education in science that is needed, but education about science; putting science in a context, historically and philosophically, to get people to understand the place science has in their everyday lives. This is where Public Understanding of Science and Technology, PUST, enters (Ott 2000). One project that deals with PUST and how to increase the interest in science and technology is the NOT-project (Naturvetenskap och Teknik = Science and Technology) that ran between 1998 and 2003, with Lotta Johansson as one of the members. 10 There are many different projects that deal with PUST. It seems formal educational systems have, in many cases, failed to educate all citizens to become literate in science and technology. One reason for this might be that schools usually offer pupils the products of science, but not the means to develop their own products, and think more freely for themselves. Science lessons are often teacher-directed and close-ended, too abstract and often seem to lack relevance for the pupils everyday lives. (Bencze & Lemelin 2001) Museums can serve as a complement to the formal education in schools and provide teachers and pupils with services that schools are unable to manage, for different reasons; lack of resources, personnel, money etc (Axelsson 1997, Bencze & Lemelin 2001). 1.3 Science Centre Pedagogy Objects should be brought into his proximity. [ ] From this, the golden rule for teachers follows: everything shall, as much as possible, be shown to the senses. If something can be comprehended by several senses at the same time, it should be presented to them simultaneously. [ ] This demonstration through the senses will lead to lasting knowledge. [ ] If sometimes objects are missing, they can be replaced with material produced with a pedagogical purpose. Comenius (1989) Aristotle (b 384 BC d 322 BC) (in Bagge 2003, p 11) claimed, already in the 3 rd century BC, that: All teaching and all intellectual learning come about from already existing knowledge. This is a thought that for example Hein (2002) has incorporated in his constructivism. Comenius (b 1592 d 1670) (1989) thought, like so many both before and after him, that education should be graphic and adapted to the pupil s age and maturity, and go from the general to the specific, from the known to the unknown. Education should also take in account for the whole world around us. Comenius also thought that women should get an education, an opinion not very common in the 17 th century. Even before Comenius, Thomas Aquinas (b 1225 d 1274) stated that we should learn things by using our senses, since that is where knowledge has its beginning. (Hooper-Greenhill 1994) A more recent spokesman for this adapted learning is David Ausubel. All learning must start on the same level as the pupil. A pedagogue must find out on what level the pupil is, and teach from there. (Ausubel 1968, Sjöberg 2000) Ausubel (1968) also points out that discovery learning is important to make abstract concepts more concrete. A pupil might not understand without the experiment. What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing (Aristotle, i
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