Exhibit design for girls' engagement



The Exploratorium sought ways to improve girls’ engagement and participation in STEM.

Research Questions

  • 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