Emerging Infectious Diseases: A Museum Exhibition-Program — Phase I/II

  • Project Description

    The project goals: 1. Create an engaging and interactive exhibition about infectious disease 2. Create programming and a website that compliments the exhibition 3. Demonstrate that there are many different careers which aim to fight the spread of infectious diseases and all of these professionals must work together to solve an infectious disease mystery 4. Highlight infectious diseases causes mechanisms of spread and prevention. The goals will be met by the project deliverables: A. a 1500 square foot traveling exhibition Disease Detective B. a supporting web site www.diseasedetectives.org C. a puppet show called Riddles of Life D. teacher professional development E. a teen outreach program.

  • Abstract

    The Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) – in collaboration with scientists at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and Academic Health Center; the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Antibiotic Resistance Collaborative – requests a Phase 1/11five-year SEPA grant of $1250000 to develop a traveling museum exhibition and web site that highlight the fascinating science behind the outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases that are changing and shaping our way of life in the 21st century. Topics to be covered will include the emergence of new illnesses like SARS and Avian Influenza and the re-emergence of drug-resistant infections that were once curable but now can be fatal. An Infectious Disease Advisory Panel and Content Experts representing the collaborating institutions listed above and others will guide museum staff in the development of these exhibits and programs. EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES will be a 1500 square-foot special exhibition to be installed in SMM’s Human Body Gallery in spring 2007. After an 18-month presentation it will begin a tour to five medium size science centers over two years. In addition to the exhibition and its complementary web site special programming will be targeted to reach specific audiences including: K-12 school groups visiting the museum (a user guide with on-line pre- and post-visit activities aligned with state and National Science Education Standards); K-12 classroom teachers (Curriculum Enhancement Institutes); and outreach programs serving after-school programs for children in under-served inner-city neighborhoods. A focus on areas of ongoing research will be used to highlight how far we have come in understanding the complex world of infectious diseases and how far we must go in treatment or elimination of present day health threats.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    1. Traveling Exhibition – Disease Detectives will be available to other institutions for a rental fee. The rental fee is subsidized for the first 5 institutions that host the exhibition. 2. Teacher Professional Development – Two week-long institutes and infectious diseases information nights for local science teachers focused on microbiology and infectious disease. The institutes deepen and invigorate a teacher-s science curriculum. They are teacher-focused inquiry-based and include indepth discussions time for curriculum lesson and assessment planning incorporate state and national standards and include hands-on lab activities. The info-night series start fall 2009. SMM-s Teacher Resource Center will host a series of infectious disease information nights. Local ID experts will lead discussions about infectious diseases with participating teachers. 3. Community Outreach – eight high school students trained to present topics on infectious diseases to community center partners during after school and summer programs. The SMM teens developed and presented multiple programs to the students and invited the community partners to join them at SMM for family days that coincided with SMM-s cultural days.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    The goal of evaluation is to ensure that the project effectively engages the target audiences in an exploration of the science of infectious diseases and communicates the main messages. Project evaluation is led by Carol Freeman (University of Minnesota Teacher Institutes formative and summative) Randi Korn & Associates (Exhibition remedial and summative) and Kirsten Ellenbogen (SMM Department of Evaluation and Research in Learning Exhibition frontend and formative; Website; Community Outreach Program). Teacher Institutes and Exhibition – Formative and summative evaluations ensure the institutes are effective in adding to the teacher’s knowledge of infectious disease and giving them the ability to use inquiry based activities. Data collection include self-assessments by teachers before and after the institute teacher feedback during the institute evaluator observations of the institutes follow-up self assessments phone interviews classroom observations and student interviews. Exhibition evaluation began with front-end evaluation using storyline testing at SMM and the Maryland Science Center. It gauged visitors’ reactions to two potential storylines and measured visitor interest in familiarity with and prior knowledge of infectious diseases. Interviews suggested that visitors did not appreciate that infectious diseases are a global problem nor that the spread of some diseases is not limited to developing countries. The responses suggested the misconception that many infectious diseases such as tuberculosis are limited to a small population only an historic problem or geographically unimportant to people in the US. During formative evaluation of the exhibit we identified several critical experiences to test usability and potential learning outcomes. The evaluation included cued and un-cued interviews observations to measure the impact of individual exhibit components as well as the combined impact of clusters of exhibits used to solve a mystery. Remedial evaluation identified problems and recommend solutions. Post visit in-depth interviews with visitors and timing and tracking were used to collect data for the remedial evaluation. The remedial report will include concrete recommendations that SMM will use to refine the exhibition. After changes are made to the exhibition the summative evaluation will determine the overall impact of the exhibition and identify its successes and shortcomings according to different factors such as behaviors as well as affective and cognitive experiences. Website and Community Outreach – Website evaluation is on-going. We looked at ease of use for the different web components during initial evaluation. Data collection included cued testing users were asked to ‘talk aloud’ during key points. The evaluator followed along to note which of the web features are used which cause obvious problems and which are used without difficulty. The talk aloud moments provide additional data about usability and needs. Summative evaluation will include surveys designed to identify why and how people use the website and satisfaction. This program is about training teens to mediate activities for community audiences. A pre- and post-program questionnaire with teens measured conceptual understanding and attitudes. This questionnaire was designed to be consistent with research on community-based learning environments that points to four characteristics of successful youth urban programs: youth centered knowledge centered assessment centered and community centered. We also used pre-and post concept mapping for analysis using an established scoring rubric that assesses the extent of knowledge and feeling breadth of conceptual understanding depth of conceptual understanding and overall mastery of content.

  • Resources for Sharing

    1. Website www.diseasedetectives.org with activities and a teachers- guide. 2. Riddles of Disease puppet show script about the history of infectious diseases and the importance of solving infectious disease mysteries. 3. Disease Detectives 1500 square foot exhibition for rent. 4. Evaluation reports to share with colleagues. 5. Volunteer activities in-development for use in other institutions.

Project Audience

Family and school groups high school science teachers and community center programs

Subjects Addressed

Infectious disease microbiology epidemiology and public health