Exhibits engage the public in learning experiences
From Informal Science Education Evidence Wiki
The primary difference between an exhibit approach and other informal science learning approaches in museums (such as programs, shows, or camps) approach is that visitors have independent control over their STEM learning experience. Visitors choose the pace, content, and level of involvement in their experience, and are not limited by staff availability/ expertise. Strengths of this approach include the ability for visitors to follow their own preferences, motivations, and initiate firsthand scientific exploration if desired.
Exhibits can offer different types of experiences within a museum to access a range of visitors who have different preferences in how to engage with the exhibit’s content. Exhibits also have the potential to integrate universal design within their features and function in order to provide more options to visitors with disabilities and the public at large.
Well designed exhibits can provide even more options for visitors, including choice of learning style, level of social participation, and degree of first hand experience in exhibit content. Much like a buffet, exhibits can provide different types of visitor interaction with different exhibit components, whether it’s to McCarthy’s 4Mat learning types, Gardner’s multiple intelligences, Falk’s five identity types, or the four different approaches outlined in the Exploratorium’s A.P.E project.
Exhibit components can also be designed to provide opportunities for privacy or for social interaction in the visitor’s experience depending on visitor preference. Inquiry based interactive exhibits can also provide opportunities for self-directed firsthand exploration of scientific phenomena and participation informally in aspects of the scientific method. Inquiry based exhibits not only provide such experiences to visitors unable to attend science camps, but they also provide an opportunity for constructivist learning at the museum.
Many museums and science centers are moving on to design exhibits with "transactive" qualities, in which manipulable materials allow users to change those materials, leaving a lasting impact on the exhibit, as well impacting the visitors themselves. This is the signature pedagogical approach of Explora! in Albuquerque, New Mexico.