Investigate Health!

  • Project Description

    The purpose of this project is to further an understanding of the science behind children-s health issues and for visitors to discover that 1) preventative children-s health recommendations grow out of scientific investigations and 2) individual choice has a significant impact on well being. The project goals are to: 1) develop inquiry-based interactive exhibits and programs that explore the science behind familiar children-s health topics; 2) make connections between the exhibit activities and the underlying science; 3) develop a staffed laboratory where visitors conduct hands-on experiments; 4) present public programs that introduce the public to health care professionals; and 5) provide a resource station where the dynamic nature and content of ever-changing health research is available.

  • Abstract

    This project will partner The Museum with researchers from local health science organizations including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and Duke University Medical Center to create an interactive exhibition and a series of monthly public programs. Investigate Health! will further understanding of children’s health issues as visitors: 1) experiment with the science behind these issues 2) discover that individual choice impacts well being and 3) explore associated health science careers. The Investigate Health! project will produce a 2100-square-foot resident exhibit containing hands-on manipulatives interactive computer programs a staffed laboratory area and a resource center. The exhibition will be accessible to children and adults of diverse backgrounds and physical abilities. The 500-square-foot staffed laboratory area within the exhibit called Health Lab will give visitors opportunities to interact with Museum staff health researchers and teenage volunteers as they use scientific instruments for more in-depth explorations. A resource center within the resident exhibit will provide a comfortable place for visitors to research emerging health-related issues and gather information about accessing health care. The Health Investigator Series monthly public programs cosponsored by the region’s world-renowned medical schools and health research organizations will bring scientists and health care professionals to speak directly to the public about the frontiers of research influencing children’s health and the career opportunities available in their fields of expertise. Investigate Health! will reach more than two and a half million Museum visitors local teachers and teenage volunteers who will visit the resident exhibit during its life span (ideally seven years) and take part in the enriching public presentations connected with it.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    Website and Exhibit plans made available to the field

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Evaluation Goals – The goals of the Investigate Health! Evaluation effort are to improve and document the effectiveness of the exhibition and the staffed laboratory in engaging visitors and advancing their understanding of the children’s health issues presented and the science behind the related research. A baseline indicator for an effective exhibit is a demonstrated enthusiasm for the science topic that encourages visitors to ask their own questions and search for their own answers while promoting social interaction around the science activities and concepts. Primary outcome measures are to determine if an exhibition and its activities successfully promote exploration as well as if the exhibits are appealing usable and safe for our visitors regardless of age size physical abilities and prior knowledge of the subject matter. Evaluation Design – Front-end evaluation was conducted in 2002. Seven focus group meetings including physicians and researchers from the University of North Carolina Duke University the EPA and the NIEHS yielded preliminary topics. In February 2004 Museum of Life and Science held an Advisory Group kick-off meeting and collected feedback around the exhibition approach and suggested activities. Formative evaluation occurred between 2004 and 2007. Prototypes of exhibit components were constructed and tested in-house for their ability to demonstrate the pertinent science with clarity and to communicate the relevant concept to the visitor. The mechanical soundness of the exhibit components was also tested at this stage. In April 2005 a mock exhibition was organized consisting of seven exhibit stations and the staffed laboratory. Inverness Research Associates and in-house evaluation staff collected data through structured interviews with visitors and naturalistic observations. Visitors staff the accessibility advisors and the interpretative advisory team contributed feedback. The in-house team has begun remedial data collection via naturalistic observations and interviews. In June 2008 Inverness Research Associates will conduct a formalized summative evaluation. Evaluation Tools – Data is collected via focus groups with subject and museum studies experts and via naturalistic observations tracking data and mediated interviews with visitors staff and volunteers. The behavior and conversations of visitors are carefully documented and later analyzed for trends. Key Findings – Key findings will be presented in the upcoming summative evaluation report.

  • Resources for Sharing

    Lab activities and Evaluation results

Project Audience

General public lower- and middle-grade students and care-givers

Subjects Addressed

Allergens sun protection stress reduction hand washing car seat safety current health research health research process and nutrition