Group Inquiry by Visitors at Exhibits (GIVE) is an ongoing research project at the Exploratorium, funded by the National Science Foundation.
Many visitors to science museums don’t have strong science backgrounds, and may not know how to get the most out of open-ended exhibits that display complex scientific phenomena.
In this project, museum staff created a very brief program to coach visiting families and field trip groups in how to engage deeply with interactive exhibits. Groups were taught to collaborate, using two skills that are central to the scientific inquiry processes of science:
- Asking questions
- Interpreting results
After learning to use the skills, groups were asked to use an exhibit they had never seen before, and they were recorded using it and interviewed about their experiences afterwards. This allowed researchers to determine the impact of the program on groups’ learning, and in particular on their inquiry skills.