Mapping the Future of Bioengineering & Technology

Project Website(s)

  • Project Description

    1) Create a 3000 square foot exhibition showing how rapidly advancing biomedical technologies give doctors new tools to improve personal and public health. 2) Inform the community about career opportunities in biomedical technology (BMT) via traveling kiosks. 3) Develop educational programs including Scientist Mentor Presentations; Mini-Med School; BMT Research Showcase during National Engineers Week; and a BMT Careers program 4) Design an educator-s guide to BMT.

  • Abstract

    The Great Lakes Science Center in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University (CASE) proposes to develop a permanent exhibition and related programs on biomedical engineering. The successful implementation of this project would allow CASE and GLSC to inform a broad constituency about select biomedical research advancements applied technologies and their relevance to society. When the project is completed we will be able to expose many thousands of visitors each year to the updated exhibition – increasing their interest in and understanding of important science concepts underlying advancements in biomedical technology. The exhibition would encompass approximately 2000 square feet and feature approximately 20 exhibits most of which would be interactive. The major audiences for the exhibition include families school groups and general museum visitors. The BioMedTech exhibition is located on the Science Center’s main floor which places an emphasis on the science and technology of particular importance to Northeast Ohio. The exhibition will be accompanied by educational programming public programs and wide dissemination around the region and within the Science Center world. When fully implemented the project could reach many hundreds of thousands of visitors and garner national attention through dissemination efforts. Visitors to the exhibition and participants in related programs will come to a better understanding of the connections between biology and technology while learning of science and engineering’s role in improving the quality of life in our society.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    Dissemination of project resources to the science center and health education communities will be accomplished by working through informal and formal science education networks such as the Association of Science-Technology Centers the National Association of Health Education Centers and the annual NIHSEPA Project Director-s meeting.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Evaluation for Mapping the Future of Bioengineering and Technology includes Front-end (completed in year one) Formative (beginning year 2) and Summative (conducted in year 3). All three stages serve to improve our understanding of science center visitors and how they think and feel about the topics of interest in an exhibit setting. Front-end evaluation focused on the potential audience especially how they think and feel about the topics proposed for the exhibition. The study included observations and interviews with visitors in the existing BioMedTech exhibition and an extensive review of the museum/ evaluation and science/health education literatures. Based on this information SRA developed knowledge hierarchies describing the range of understandings about given topics and made specific recommendations about how to approach most topics. During formative evaluation the project team tests prototype versions of exhibits labels and multimedia presentations to see how effective they are at achieving their goals and to suggest ways to improve them. SRA tests prototypes iteratively ideally until the exhibit is as effective as possible for the given audience. Summative evaluation investigates how effectively the completed exhibition achieves its goals and objectives. Assessing visitors’ experiences in the finished exhibition shows how and why the goals are (or are not) being met. That allows evaluators to suggest possible ways to remediate the exhibition as well as look for larger lessons that may apply to future exhibitions at the GLSC or at other science centers developing exhibits on the same topics. Instruments used: SRA uses a naturalistic methodology to guide these studies. Data collection includes literature reviews observations and depth interviews with GLSC visitors. Examples of protocols are available online at Type of data collected: Evaluators take detailed notes on visitor demographics and their physical emotional social and intellectual engagements at the exhibits. Visitors are also interviewed during and after their visits to the exhibition. Selected results of data analysis: Front-end evaluation which has been completed revealed useful and interesting information about the potential audience for the new BMT projects. Definition of biomedical technology: Adult respondents often guessed a fairly accurate definition of biomedical technology but children through middle-school age had difficulty making sense of the term. Respondents said they expected the exhibition to include both ‘cures’ (i.e. the medical part) and something about technology (which tended to involve machines but not necessarily computers). Visitors will need support to help them understand why some topics like stem cell therapy are included as BMT. Research and development of biomedical technologies: Respondents were more interested in BMT products like images machines and cures than in the process used to develop them. Most respondents had little understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of BMT research and development or of the contribution that basic research makes to the process. Local GLSC visitors were interested in all connections to work done in Cleveland. Cutting edge vs. older technologies: Most visitors did not fault GLSC’s existing exhibits for showing older technologies because technology changes so fast and new technologies are very expensive. Respondents expressed great interest in the older technologies. They wanted to know what doctors did before newer technologies were developed and to see how far BMT had come. Controversies and dilemmas in biomedical technology: For some visitors certain BMT topics were seen as either controversial or presenting personal ethical dilemmas. Some visitors were strongly in favor of including exhibits that discussed or encouraged visitors to express themselves on these issues. Others were ambivalent about participating or even considered the approach inappropriate for a science center.

  • Resources for Sharing

    All evaluation reports and resources will be posted at as part of the library of evaluation reports maintained by Selinda Research Associates (SRA). In addition to the data and analysis specific to BMT the reports include general recommendations for developing engaging science exhibitions.

Project Audience

Students in 7th-8th grades; visiting public including families and school groups

Subjects Addressed

Medical Imaging Genomics Stem Cells Functional Electrical Stimulation and Infectious Disease