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Interacting with ... what? Exploring children's social and sensory practices in a science discovery centre

Dicks, Bella 2013. Interacting with ... what? Exploring children's social and sensory practices in a science discovery centre. Ethnography and Education 8 (3) , pp. 301-322. 10.1080/17457823.2013.792677

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Abstract

This paper presents findings from a qualitative UK study exploring the social practices of schoolchildren visiting an interactive science discovery centre. It is promoted as a place for ‘learning through doing’, but the multi-modal, ethnographic methods adopted suggest that children were primarily engaged in (1) sensory pleasure-taking and (2) playing out shifting relations of affect and sociality. In discussing this, the paper does not ask what children are learning, but rather what they are doing – and how this does or does not relate to the scientific principles presented to them. The paper confirms studies suggesting that discovery centres are highly social spaces in which cognitive processing is only one aspect but goes further in suggesting that the twin dimensions of the social and the sensory are so paramount in governing children's responses to exhibits as to eclipse thoughts of science. The findings suggest that old-style live demonstrations are more effective than technologically interactive exhibits in foregrounding scientific concepts.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
L Education > L Education (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: science discovery centres, interactivity, museum education, children, science communication, multimodal ethnography
Additional Information: Online publication date: 14 June 2013.
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1745-7823
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2018 14:17
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/40521

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