Evaluating learning and attitudes on tissue engineering: A study of children viewing animated digital dome shows detailing the biomedicine of tissue engineering.

Published:2012, Tissue Engineering (Part A)
vol 18, no. 5 576-586
Authors:Wilson A, Gonzalez L, Pollock JA
PMID:21943030 , PMCID:PMC3286820

STEM Ed, Stem Cells, Regenerative Medicine, Tissue Engineering


Informal science education creates opportunities for the general public to learn about complex health and science topics. Tissue engineering is a fast-growing field of medical science that combines advanced chemistries to create synthetic scaffolds, stem cells, and growth factors that individually or in combination can support the bodies own healing powers to remedy a range of maladies. Health literacy about this topic is increasingly important as our population ages and as treatments become more technologically advanced. We are using a science center planetarium as a projection space to engage and educate the public about the science and biomedical research that supports tissue engineering. The purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of the films that we have produced for part of the science center planetarium demographic, specifically children ranging in age from 7 to 16 years. A two-group pre- and post-test design was used to compare children’s learning and attitude changes in response to the two versions of the film. One version uses traditional voice-over narration; the other version uses dialog between two animated characters. The results of this study indicate that children demonstrated increases in knowledge of the topic with either film format, but preferred the animated character version. The percentage change in children’s scores on the knowledge questions given before and after viewing the show exhibited an improvement from 23% correct to 61% correct on average. In addition, many of the things that the children reported liking were part of the design process of the art-science collaboration. Other results indicated that before viewing the shows 77% of the children had not even heard about tissue engineering and only 17% indicated that they were very interested in it, whereas after viewing the shows, 95% indicated that tissue engineering was a good idea. We also find that after viewing the show, 71% of the children reported that the show made them think, 75% enjoyed it, and 89% felt that they learned something. We discuss the potential impact the films might have on public knowledge, health literacy, and attitudes toward the science of tissue engineering.