The nature of exhibits about acoustics in Science and Technology centres
Afonso, A. S. and Gilbert, J. K. (2008) The nature of exhibits about acoustics in Science and Technology centres. Research in Science Education, 38 (5). pp. 633-651. ISSN 0157-244X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s11165-007-9067-4
This is a study of the opportunities currently provided by interactive science and technology centres for visitors' engagement in the field of acoustics. E-mails, requesting a description of exhibits on acoustics (sound and hearing) in use, were sent to members of staff of interactive science and technology centres around the world as well as to companies that design and sell exhibits. Eighty-seven descriptions of distinctive interactive exhibits were received and analysed. Results show that: there are few analogy-based exhibits concerning the more complex aspects of acoustics; narratives involving visitors' everyday lives, that might provide continuity between and beyond the situations presented by exhibits, are not generally provided; science is emphasised at the expense of technology; the risks, benefits and ethical implications of relevant technological artefacts are rarely mentioned; the majority of the exhibits are concerned with the fields of fundamental acoustics, hearing, and psychoacoustics. It is suggested that interactive science and technology centres need to rethink the design of exhibits about acoustics if their mission includes some appreciation of this important branch of science and technology.