Science of Sharing Experimonths and Exhibits
The Exploratorium is at the cutting edge of creating and studying hands-on social science exhibits with the Science of Sharing project, a collaboration with the Museum of Life and Science, and a large committee of social science and social psychology experts. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation. An extensive set of summative evaluation studies assessed metacognition about competing, collaborating and sharing among exhibit users and Experimonth participants. In addition to assessing visitor impacts and exhibition usage, typical of summative evaluation, these large-scale studies used a quasi-experimental design to compare SoS with more traditional science museum fare. Comparison studies also examined the effectiveness of two different types of exhibits: the very inexpensive card sorts which afford intimate sharing, and the more costly arena-style exhibits, which are designed to encourage visitors to watch others use them. We also studied participant experiences with Experimonths, on-line games which engage players in daily interactions with other anonymous players. Findings have added to the growing body of work on metacognition in informal education settings, and are currently being used to inform the Exploratorium’s ongoing efforts in social science-based exhibits and programs.