Conversations of family and primary school groups at robotic dinosaur exhibits in a museum: what do they talk about?
Author: Tunnicliffe S.D.
Source: International Journal of Science Education, Volume 22, Number 7, 1 July 2000 , pp. 739-754(16)
Abstract:The story which a natural history museum wishes to tell to its self-guided visitors is presented through a number of different components, such as type of exhibit. However, this story from the museum may not be 'read' by visitors, who come with their own knowledge and understanding and read a different story in the animals. Increasingly robotic models are being used in natural history museums, science centres and zoos to attract visitors and tell some kind of story. To what extent are they successful in this and does the quality and context of the animatronics matter? What do the visitors actually talk about when looking at such robotic animals? This article focuses on primary school groups and families. Do they talk about similar things at the same exhibits even though the schools visit for educational purposes and the families visit of their own free choice in their leisure time. Furthermore, within school groups do different sub groups respond in a different way, gauged by the content of their conversations, to similar robotics? This article is a study of the responses of the conversational content of primary school and family groups to two different robotics dinosaur exhibits in the Natural History Museum, London. These verbal responses were analysed through using a systemic network. Results indicate that the animatronics have a simple, well thought out, story line which is 'read' by both the family and school visitors and hence increases their understanding of the topic of the exhibit.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2000-07-01