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This brief volume describes an innovative activity that can be used by museum professionals to foster two key inquiry skills―asking a good question and articulating discoveries. A hybrid between a research report and a how-to manual, it describes the development, evaluation, and results of Juicy Question, a collaborative activity designed to foster group inquiry among families or school field trips. The authors demonstrate how the activity changed the behavior of museum visitors and taught them important inquiry skills for use in other informal education settings. Sponsored by the Exploratorium, San Francisco.
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Joshua P. Gutwill is Acting Director of Visitor Research at the Exploratorium science center in San Francisco. He is coauthor of the Exploratorium professional volume Fostering Active Prolonged Engagement and several articles on science education, museum evaluation and informal learning. He holds a Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley. Sue Allen is Director of Visitor Research and Evaluation at the Exploratorium, a position from which she is on leave while serving as Program Director, Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, National Science Foundation. Allen is author of Finding Significance, and of multiple articles on science education, museum evaluation, and informal learning. She holds a Ph. D. from University of California, Berkeley.Review:
“Gutwill and Allen offer a rare combination of careful attention to the learner, deep respect for the development and design process, and a rigorous research approach. With this gem, they once again take giant steps that advance the interactive museum's ability to play an important role in the life of the learner.”—Kirsten Ellenbogen, Director of Evaluation & Research in Learning, Science Museum of Minnesota
”[This book] will help many of us think about our work differently—by approaching our design work with the goal of eliciting ‘juicy questions’ for ourselves and for our visitors. This is one of the best examples of what is meant by inquiry: an elegantly simple example of the deeply transformative process of inquiry.”—Kathleen McLean, Principal, Independent Exhibitions
”[This book is] really helpful in telling the whole story of why we desire inquiry experiences on the exhibit floor and how we develop systems for supporting visitors to engage in such activities. As someone who is both a museum practitioner and researcher, it was useful to learn about the theory behind the research method because it provides a rationale for the circumstances that shape the design of the activity.”—Preeti Gupta, Senior Vice President for Education & Family Programs, NY Hall of Science
“[This book] reveals new horizons for scaffolded collaborative learning through shared mediated experiences that support transitions between formal and informal contexts.”—Janette Griffin, Senior Lecturer, University of Technology, Sydney
“...[provides] strong evidence for the potential of interactive science museum exhibits to allow visitors to engage in extended inquiry....particularly useful for the field because they committed themselves to carrying out their investigations using strong research design and carefully tried to address as many variables as possible in the difficult environment of a designed informal learning environment (i.e. a science museum).”—George Hein, Professor Emeritus, Lesley University
"In an effort to encourage more self-motivated learning, educators at San Francisco's Exploratorium came up with an activity called 'Juicy Question.' ... If all goes according to plan, [visitors will] investigate and reflect [on an exhibit], thereby learning more about the process of scientific inquiry itself. This book details the 'Juicy Question' approach, describes the educational principles behind it and offers advice for adapting the game for your own museum. The promotion of such group inquiry, the authors believe, can advance school science education and encourage lifelong learning.”
“What is striking about Group Inquiry at Science Museum Exhibits is how simple and straightforward the Juicy Question activity seems, although it is the product of months of research and rigorous testing.”
—Julia Rousakis, Informal Learning Review
“Classroom teachers as well as nonformal educators in settings like museums and science centers will be interested in the inquiry-promoting strategies the investigators developed and the principles behind them. The strategies can be adapted to a variety of informal learning environments for purposes of enhancing learning on field trips or simply engaging visitors more meaningfully in exhibits.” -Sarah Haines, National Science Teachers Association
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