I have just finished listening to a podcast from Fora.tv about science museums and how they have developed from top-down, one-way conversations to places that incorporate interactivity as a way to make the experience more interesting to visitors. It was an interesting talk to consider in terms of a project I am working on right now which is to design an online tool to support the environmental programmes in schools. the tool has to be both educational and ‘fun’, something that science museums have been trying to achieve for a long time.
Some of the key points:
Remo Besio, the former director of the Technorama science centre in Switzerland was saying that they do not have a target market in mind when they design their exhibits. Instead they design their exhibits to appeal to a 4-year-old as well as a physics professor. He then went on to say that a purely online experience of science will never work as it is important that people experience the real, physical phenomena to truly learn about scientific concepts. I wonder if this will change some day? Obviously he is pretty keen to keep the visitor numbers up at his museum!
Some other random points:
- A good experience is one that is open to interpretation and can be built upon.
- A good experience is something that is a little bit mentally challenging but easy to use.
- Let the user discover things for themselves. Don’t show them everything at once.
- Make it fun, but fun in this sense means “mind explosions” not frivolous enjoyment.
- Allow the user to take more than one path. Don’t restrict their movement.
- Free choice learning is something they try to achieve: that is, where visitors to the exhibition discover and then teach each other about the exhibits