This project used our understanding of science capital to engage young audiences with the galleries at the Science and Industry Museum.
Each trail has a number of core visitor-focused aims:
- To create opportunities for social interaction and conversation around the objects.
- To make the collection and themes relevant and connected to people’s everyday lives.
- To inspire scientific habits of mind, including curiosity, creativity and close observation.
- To draw out the people stories behind the science.
- To make families and groups with younger visitors more confident in interpreting and navigating exhibitions.
- To create a fun and open experience for all.
The SMG Learning Resources Team, led by Karen Davies and Beth Hawkins, have redeveloped the approach and content of the learning resources that we offer across the group. This consists of everything from object hunt trails, online videos and games, to downloadable home science activities.
The redeveloped activities have been produced using the concept of science capital, making them accessible for people with all levels of science exposure.
This process highlighted the need for on-gallery exhibition trails.
Finished trails for visitors aged 5–11 and the groups they visit with. The trails consist of 8-12 page A5 booklets that include activities and games, designed to help groups explore the objects and themes of exhibitions.
Activities so far have included (among others):
- Variations on object hunts: from matching close-up photos to objects on display, to finding objects that can be linked by key words and themes, or discovering objects that have personal importance and relevance to you.
- Become an Explainer activities, where visitors must choose an object, fill in a script, and perform a show for their group
- Object charades games where visitors must choose an object and act it out for their group
- Design and draw challenges
- Programming your own Robots dance routine for your group to follow
- Themed and relatable conversation prompts for all exhibition sections
The Robots activity trail proved very successful:
- 17,500 trails were printed and used through the duration of the run
- Groups using the trail spent an average of 33% more time in the exhibition than those without
- Groups using the trail spent an average almost 700x more time in the OBEY section of the exhibition than those without
- Groups using the trail engaged with 3x more objects in the exhibition than those without
- The trail appealed up to the age of 13
- The trail made visitors more confident in the exhibition and helped younger visitors to engage with a more adult interpretation
Source: TWR Research Robots evaluation
Additionally, the trail was so successful that the next two museums hosting Robots (Life Centre for Science in Newcastle and National Museums Scotland) will also be using it. We’re hopeful to continue this success with The Sun: Living with our Star and Spark of Life. In October, we’ll be launching two new trails—one to accompany The Sun at the Science Museum, and another to accompany Electricity: The Spark of Life at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester.