The overall goal of the project is to raise awareness among students teachers and the general public about the process and the importance of health-related research improving their ability to make better personal health decisions. In addition to the hands-on interactive exhibit the project includes a research study aimed at determining whether a museum-based health exhibit and related materials (specifically the “Heart Smart Decisions” activity themed around cardiovascular health) are effective in changing cardiovascular health knowledge among 10th graders in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Participating students will be selected from three high schools representative of the school district’s diversity. Specific project objectives are to: Raise public awareness of recent research on cardiovascular risk factors the diseases associated with these risk factors and strategies for improving cardiovascular health Investigate the extent to which a museum-based health exhibit functions as an education intervention strategy that can lead to gains in students’ knowledge about cardiovascular health and address a primary prevention need Disseminate the exhibit and complementary resources to other museums and alternative venues extending and sustaining the impact of the project Evaluate the effectiveness of the museum/university collaboration for conducting research in an informal setting
The University of Miami’s Department of Psychology in collaboration with the Miami Museum of Science & Planetarium will create a hands-on traveling exhibit complementary classroom- and web-based resources aimed at raising awareness about cardiovascular disease risk factors and strategies for reducing these risks and improving personal health. The Heart Smart exhibit and educational resources will serve to highlight the distribution of cardiovascular risk factors across Miami-Dade County.
The project will identify museums and science centers with existing heart or health-related exhibits and offer them Heart Smart for a three-month tour as a means of extending/refreshing their installation. The Miami Museum of Science & Planetarium will also identify non-traditional local venues to host the exhibit including libraries high schools hospitals and university settings leveraging the museum and the University of Miami’s partnership. Following the completion of the experimental study the museum will conduct professional development on the use of the “Heart Smart Decisions” activity for all of the 10th grade biology teachers at the three high schools involved in the study. The museum will develop a Heart Smart web page featuring the aggregated visitor data hot science stories and a downloadable version of the “Heart Smart Decisions” activity. The project partners will also disseminate project resources and findings to both informal education audiences and the research community via presentations at national professional conferences and articles prepared for peer-reviewed publications.
Project evaluation will focus on evaluation of the exhibition and assessment of the effectiveness of the museum/university collaboration. Front-end evaluation will examine high school student and general visitor attitudes pre-existing knowledge interests and misconceptions about cardiovascular health. Formative evaluation will test prototypes of exhibition components and the debate game to ensure the intervention supporting this research is effective and engaging for visitors. Remedial evaluation will examine the exhibitions’ ability to communicate complex research and health information to museum visitors. Summative evaluation will examine the impact of the Heart Smart exhibit experience on visitors at the Miami Museum of Science & Planetarium and at one outreach site both immediately post-visit and three months following their visit. Key summative questions include: Do visitors understand the main message that they have choices and some control over their cardiovascular health? Does exposure to the exhibit increase awareness and understanding of risk factors? Does Heart Smart encourage behavior or attitude change that visitors can describe three months after their visit? How do visitors respond to contributing to a real-time database? Does the less conventional exhibition site (library student union) create a space in which visitors explore this topic as they would in a museum? Do visitors have an increased understanding of the science research experience? The collaboration strand will be explored through visitor observations and interviews and surveys of the participating professionals using standard evaluation methods and instruments. Key collaboration strand questions include: How do visitors respond to the idea that their museum experience is simultaneously contributing real data for research? Does it make them feel valued or exploited? Do museums work effectively as sites of data collection? Are there mechanisms in place to ensure the validity of the sample? How successful is this project in meeting the needs abilities and agendas of the respective project partners? Is this a useful model for future museum-university collaborations? What are the outcomes intended and unintended of this collaboration?
Resources for Sharing
The high school study will generate data on 540 adolescents at three time points. The museum exhibit has the potential to generate data from 100000 visitors. No identifying information will be included in either dataset. After the project’s investigators complete data analyses the data will be available to other users under a data-sharing agreement that provides for a commitment to use the data for research purposes only to secure the data using appropriate computer technology and to destroy or return the data after analyses are completed.
The Miami Museum of Science & Planetarium's 200000 visitors per year including families teachers students young adults and tourists are the primary audience for the Heart Smart hands-on interactive exhibit. Approximately 31% of the museum's annual visitors are Hispanic and 13% are Black. During the dissemination phase of the project the exhibit will travel to both traditional museum settings as well as alternative sites broadening audience access.
Heart Smart will raise awareness about risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease including the metabolic syndrome and strategies for improving cardiovascular health. The exhibit will invite visitors to contribute data on measurements related to cardiovascular health (i.e. their height weight waist circumference and blood pressure) and inform visitors about the research process.