Client: Museum of Science, Boston
Challenge: Design an exhibit about socio-scientific argumentation
Project: Provocative Questions Exhibit
Role: Exhibit Designer
In 2009, the MOS Research and Evaluation team applied for and received a National Science Foundation Grant for the Provocative Questions exhibit. The goal of this project was to create an exhibit that addressed socio-scientific argumentation. There are many controversial topics that can be informed through scientific research, but not answered. The exhibit seeks to let the visitor explore that science combined with personal experience and values can create a solid argument.
Since the average visitor spends 3 minutes at a museum interactive on a good day, many people at the NSF were skeptical that this type of exhibit would work.
The main section is where you build your argument. The visitor sits across from another in their party to do the activity. The touch screen asks the visitor to choose the three parts of their arguments and then prompts the pair to talk with each other about their reasoning.
The design of the Build component was informed by many different factors: ADA space requirements, the need for broadcast audio, to limit distraction from other groups, and the need for the space to be broken down easily when traveling exhibits commandeers the space from HHL. We also thought that the space needed to look exciting for visitors to be enticed to come and play.
The other three component that make up PQ are the Intro Walls, an area to explore more of the Science and Research, and the most popular component- Break It Down- where three visitors can compete to see who can tell a statement of Scientific Research, Values, and Personal Experience apart.
Provocative Questions lives in the Hall of Human Life exhibit space and is updated often- every six months! (Which is astounding in museum-land!)