Monday, September 11, 2006

Exhibit Remediation, Part 2

As we mentioned in a prior blog, the main idea of the original developer of the Color Booth exhibit was that young children learn through their senses, are most interested in themselves, and are actively engaged in looking at and understanding color in their life.

The exhibit was arranged so that the light, as it changed, affected the colors of the objects on the shelf and the colors of your clothes as you stood in the booth. The idea was to enable children to experience the effect of different colored light on themselves and their surroundings. This exhibit was marginally successful over the last 5 years, but our exhibit developer and the early childhood specialist had observed visitors interacting with it in very limited ways. When this particular exhibit came up in the exhibit observation/remediation list, they decided to conduct a series of observations of its use over time to see what was really happening. They created a chart to use with the time, objective observation of what actions visitors were taking, and a subjective observation about what they, as observers, thought was going on. This format allowed them to share their observations with the rest of the exhibit development team in an objective manner.

Here are some examples of the observations from a half hour period:

10:45 A preschool-aged girl enters the color booth. Her mom follows. She grabs a color pane and touches it. The light changes in the booth. She looks up. Mom looks up. They smile. Then they walk away.

10:45-10:49 A toddler-aged child walks in and touches a color pane. Mom follows her in and sits down. The light in the color booth changes. Mom looks up. The light changes again. The toddler looks up and points at the light. Mom says, "Yes, green." The light changes again and Mom says, "red." The child points up at the lights again. Mom picks up a color pane and child picks up a color pane. The light changes and they both look up. Then they walk away.

Subjective Observation: At the first light change the mother may have said something about the color to the child. I could not hear.

10:55 The same toddler is back in the color booth. She is standing in the color booth. She points up as the light changes. Mom sits down next to her. Mom picks up the blue color pane and holds it to her face. The child picks up the orange color pane and holds it to her face. They put the panes down and walk away.

10:55-10:57 Three preschool aged girls approach the coloring table (outside the color booth). One says, "hey, let's color." They all three sit down and begin to color. One of the girls stands up and presses buttons in the Color Garden (an exhibit nearby, where you can control the color change). She then goes back to the coloring table and sits down. Their adult with them asks, "Do you want to go to the air tunnel?" They answer in unison, "Yes," and leave the area.

Subjective Observation: I was waiting to see if there could be a connection between the color booth and the coloring table. Interest in the color garden appeared greater.

11:00 No activity

11:05 No activity

11:08 One of the boys in the light garden walked over to the color booth. He looks on the table. He walked over to the coloring table. Sat down and begins to color.

11: 10 No activity

Clearly, the color booth drew attention, but was not holding visitors' attention. The Early Childhood Specialist, who was conducting the observations made the following inferences:

Play appeared to be sustained in the color booth with adult facilitation.

Both adult and child noticed the light changing.

I saw no interaction with the mirror during this ½ hour observation.

The specialist continued observations on other days. We'll post more of the inferences and questions the team considered as the observations continued in future blog