Exhibit design for girls' engagement
The Exploratorium sought ways to improve girls’ engagement and participation in STEM.
- What does girls’ engagement look like at museum exhibits?
- What design attributes are strongly positively correlated with girls’ engagement at STEM museum exhibits?
- Track ~1000 children ages 8-13 at select exhibits, observing their engagement behaviors
- Assess >300 exhibits for >50 design attributes
- Triangulate preliminary findings via focus groups and Girl Advisory Group
Map used for tracking participants' paths through the exhibit area
Identified nine design elements that, when included in an exhibit, helped to engage girls by:
- increasing time spent
- increasing return visits, or
- encouraging strong engagement behaviors, such as repeating or varying an activity
EDGE design principles were introduced and used during exhibit refurbishment at the Exploratorium.
For example, this exhibit, 3D Shadows, was updated so that it:
- accommodates multiple users, via multiple sets of glasses
- features whimsical objects, like a birdcage and hamster wheel
EDGE findings were disseminated nationwide:
- 3 journal articles + 1 white paper
- 5 workshops for practitioners
- 2 museums wrote grants to integrate girl-friendly exhibits into new development
3D Shadows exhibit
Exhibit Design for Girls' Engagement: A Guide to the EDGE Design Attributes (PDF)
Dancstep, T. & Sindorf, L. (2018 a). Creating a Female-Responsive Design Framework for STEM exhibits. Curator 61(3): 469-484.
Dancstep, T. & Sindorf, L. (2018 b). Exhibit Designs for Girls’ Engagement (EDGE). Curator 61(3): 485-506