Questions from Brazil – Children and adults interaction at a science exhibition

Questions from Brazil – Children and adults interaction at a science exhibition

Author: Rosicler Neves – Museum of Life Fiocruz, Brazil

Luisa Massarani – Museum of Life/Fiocruz
Shawn Rowe – Oregon State University

Science museums are important spaces for communicate and discuss science issues in Brazil, especially for children and their families from low-income communities. Unfortunately, there are still few initiatives in Latin American aiming to study learning at these places. Using image and audio recording of 13 families’ visits at an interactive exhibition, we intent to study young children and adults behavior and interactions. The exhibition, located in one of the poorest areas of Rio de Janeiro, is specifically developed for children and stimulate visitors to solve challenges about Brazilian biodiversity. Data included all the visits registered through fixed cameras inside the exhibition and mini-mobile cameras coupled to a helmet, used by an adult and a child. A “clip”, an edited excerpt from the videos of each visit stage, constituted the unit of analysis of the research. The sample consisted of 137 clips, analyzed with a protocol elaborated specifically for this purpose, considering sociocultural perspectives. We identified patterns of behave and use of interactive exhibits. Adults had difficulties to understand instructions, demanding guidance. We also observed that adults, in general, present ambivalent postures: they both stimulate children to freely explore the exhibition and control them. However, in some point, several children end up taking the lead of the group, engaging the adults to discuss and enjoy the exhibition activities. Several activities have prompted exchange of information and conversations between different generations, particularly when the exhibition addresses issues related to local challenges, such as children’s lack of knowledge of animal and plant species and illegal hunting. Our study suggests that children exhibitions that encourage adult participation have great potential to stimulate discussion between generations. The study also indicates the need to deeper the discussion on how design for science learning and to be more inclusive.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices