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2019 2017

Opening Minds to Science THE SAINT LOUIS SCIENCE CENTER’S REPORT TO THE COMMUNIT Y


“The Saint Louis Science Center is absolutely an amazing place. Our kids love to visit and they want to come every time we ask. There are so many amazing things to learn and do at the Science Center. Keep it going!” SCIENCE CENTER GUEST | APRIL 2019

“Thank you for a fun, clean, safe and healthy environment where learning and playing happen all in one!” SCIENCE CENTER GUEST | DECEMBER 2019

“Our group consisted of adults, so we weren’t the target demographic for much of the material. However, we still were able to spend hours at the museum learning new facts, stretching our brain power, and [having] our curiosity sufficiently piqued. Thank you!” SCIENCE CENTER GUEST | NOVEMBER 2019


FROM THE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Todd Bastean Dear Friends of the Saint Louis Science Center, It is my pleasure to introduce the seventh edition of Opening Minds to Science – The Saint Louis Science Center’s Report to the Community, 2019, our yearly review of our ongoing efforts to gather and utilize audience data. This work supports us in fulfilling our mission: To ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning. This report highlights a number of key findings from our audience research work in 2019, including an overview of our general public visitation demographics, guest feedback about the overall visit experience, and a look at how evaluation informs the development and review of our interactive galleries and programs. We take a closer look at visitation patterns to POMPEII: THE EXHIBITION and we explore how guests help us improve interactive exhibits in GROW and begin to plan for new earth science content. We also examine our educational programs, with a spotlight on the Youth Exploring Science (YES) and Astronaut Academy programs. Although 2020 is proving to be a very different year than 2019, I hope this look back at 2019 reveals helpful insights about our guests and how they connect with curiosity at our Science Center. Sincerely,


Table of Contents

1

Our Data

How do we learn about our audiences?

Why do we do this work?

2

3

People Served How many people does the Saint Louis Science Center reach?

General Public Audience Profile

Who are our visitors?

Why do people visit the Science Center?

What do guests do during their visit?

7

9

10

Guest Feedback What do guests say about their Science Center experiences?

Special Exhibitions Who visits special exhibitions and why do they come?

Exhibit Evaluation - Soil Cores in GROW

How do guests help us test interactive exhibits?

Educational Programs

11

How do we track engagement in Science Center programs?

Exploring Earth Science

13

How does evaluation help shape content for future exhibitions?

Thank You

14

Co-Authors: Elisa Israel Director of Research & Evaluation

Sara Davis Research & Evaluation Manager

Kelley Staab Research & Evaluation Associate

Publication Design: Lee Kern Graphic Designer Copyright 2020 Saint Louis Science Center


Our Data How do we learn about our audiences? Why do we do this work? Our guests and their experiences are central to everything we do at the Saint Louis Science Center. We use audience research and evaluation to better understand our guests and their experiences with Science Center offerings. This helps the Science Center team make informed decisions in the planning and review of exhibits, programs, and operations. This work is done following best practices in the field of visitor studies.

DATA PRESENTED IN THIS REPORT WERE SYSTEMATICALLY COLLECTED AND ANALYZED THROUGH A VARIET Y OF STUDIES, INCLUDING: Exit Surveys of adult, general public visitors that provide key information, including visitor demographics, visitation patterns, and likelihood of recommending the Science Center. The Science Center is one of over 30 science museums across North America participating in the Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies (COVES) where all participating institutions collect comparative visitor data through a common exit survey. COVES is managed by staff at the Museum of Science, Boston. Comment Cards that team members distribute each day to a random sample of guests throughout the facility with the invitation to “let us know how your visit goes today.” Exhibit Evaluation Studies, in which the feedback visitors provide via interviews, guided activities, and surveys, along with observations of how visitors engage with exhibits, are used to inform the design and development of new exhibitions and to assess the overall effectiveness of completed exhibitions. The Science Center’s internally developed System for Assessing Mission Impact (SAMI), which collects and summarizes key performance indicators for educational programs. Tracking data collected by program staff allows us to capture key data about participants in educational programs such as the multi-year Youth Exploring Science (YES) program, which tracks data about participants’ engagement in the program and posthigh school plans. Some of the data that are used in this publication were made available through the Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies (COVES). Neither the Museum of Science, Boston staff nor COVES bear any responsibility for the results or conclusions presented here.

1


People Served How many people does the Saint Louis Science Center reach? The Science Center determines the total people served through the use of on-site door counters and by tracking attendance at off-site programs.

In 2019, the Science Center reached 1,119,125 people. The majority, 95% (1,064,202 people), were on-site visitors. The remaining 5%, (54,923 people), experienced educational programs and community outreach activities at off-site locations such as schools and community centers.

86% General Public

1,119,125 PEOPLE SERVED IN 2019

4% School Groups 3% Non-School Groups 2% Facility Rentals <1% Other On-site 5% Off-site

2


General Public Audience Profile Who are our visitors? Every month, a randomized sample of our adult, general public visitors are invited to participate in a survey at the end of their visit. These surveys provide key information on demographics and visitation patterns. In 2019, a statistically valid sample of 1,258 guests were surveyed.

GENER AL PUBLIC VISITORS’ RESIDENCE

FIRST TIME VS. REPEAT VISITORS Four-fifths of general public visitors are repeat visitors. On average, these repeat visitors came to the Science Center 2.4 times during the previous 12 months.

St. Louis City St. Louis County 10%

Metro Area MO Counties Metro Area IL Counties

38%

27%

Tourists

FIRST-TIME VISITORS

All Local Residents 62%

20%

Local Zoo-Museum

12%

District Residents 37%

13%

REPEAT VISITORS

80%

Local Non Zoo-Museum District Residents 25%

Respondents represented 40 states, plus several countries. The majority of them (62%) reside in the Metro St. Louis area, including St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and the surrounding Metro area counties in Missouri and Illinois.

HOW OFTEN DO REPEAT VISITORS COME TO THE SCIENCE CENTER? 57% 34% 9%

CALHOUN <1% JERSEY <1%

LINCOLN <1%

MACOUPIN <1%

1 st visit in 12 months

2–4 visits in 12 months

5 or more visits in 12 months

BOND <1% WARREN <1%

MADISON 4%

ST. CHARLES ST. LOUIS 7% CITY 10% ST. LOUIS COUNTY 27%

SCIENCE CENTER MEMBERSHIP STATUS CLINTON 1%

ST. CLAIR 6%

FRANKLIN 2%

JEFFERSON MONROE 3% 1%

WASHINGTON 0%

TOURISTS 38%

Most general public visitors are not current Science Center Members. Members, however, visit more often: repeat visitors who are Members come an average of 4.8 times per year, while those who aren’t visit 1.9 times per year. Members

3

NonMembers

12% 88%


VISITING GROUP T YPE AND AGE R ANGES

OVERALL GENERAL PUBLIC AUDIENCE ETHNICITY

Although the majority of adults visited in groups

9%

that included children, nearly 40% visited in adultonly groups. Most adults in “family” groups were age 25-44, while the largest portion of adults in

1%

1% 3% 3%

adult-only groups were age 18-34.

7% 76%

65+ 7%

65+ 17%

55–64 7% 45–54 14%

55–64 17%

ADULT GROUPS

45–54 11%

35–44 36%

39%

35–44 11%

“FAMILY” GROUPS

61%

25–34 21%

CAUCASIAN/WHITE

AMERICAN INDIAN/ AL ASK A NATIVE

AFRICAN-AMERICAN/ BL ACK

MULTI-R ACIAL

ASIAN/PACIFIC

OTHER

HISPANIC/L ATINO

25–34 28%

VISITORS FROM THE ST. LOUIS METRO AREA The racial/ethnic distribution of Science

18–24 23%

18–24 9%

AGES OF ADULTS IN ADULT GROUPS

AGES OF ADULTS IN “FAMILY” GROUPS

Center guests who reside in the St. Louis area (St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and the surrounding Metro area counties in Missouri and Illinois) is similar to the 2018 US Census

The typical “family” group consisted of two adults

Bureau data for the St. Louis Metro area (the

and two children. In total, 41% of “family” groups

most recent data available); however, among

included children age 0-3, 57% included children

these local visitors, more self-identified as

age 4-7, 63% included children age 8-12, and 22%

multi-racial and fewer self-identified as

included children age 13-17.

African-American/Black.

Guests in adult groups typically come in groups of 2018

two; however some visit in larger groups and others

US CENSUS DATA FOR ST. LOUIS METRO AREA

visit by themselves.

SCIENCE CENTER LOCAL VISITORS

Caucasian/White

76%

74%

African-American/ Black

18%

8%

Asian/Pacific

3%

3%

The Science Center’s adult general public visitors

Hispanic/Latino*

3%

4%

tend to be fairly well-educated, with almost three-

American Indian/ Alaska Native

0.2%

1%

Multi-racial

2%

10%

Other

1%

1%

HIGHEST LEVEL OF EDUCATION COMPLETED

quarters holding at least a college degree. Some High School 1%

2019

Some Graduate Work

Some College 8%

High School Degree

20%

38% College Degree

5%

29%

*The US Census tracks Hispanic data separately from race data; total exceeds 100% for the US Census column.

Graduate Degree

4


General Public Audience Profile Why do people visit the Science Center? PRIMARY REASON FOR VISITING As part of the exit survey, visitors selected their two primary reasons for coming to the Science Center from a list of 11 options. The most commonly selected reason for visiting the Science Center was for the social experience of spending time with others in their group. PRIMARY REASONS FOR VISITING TODAY (Respondents could select up to two options. Total exceeds 100%.) To spend time together as a group/family

32%

To see a specific exhibit, program, or show

26%

For fun/entertainment for group members/children

23%

Something to do while visiting the area

14%

For fun/entertainment for myself

11%

For an educational experience for group members/children

10%

To bring out of town friends/family

7%

Wanted something to do in poor weather

7%

Because that’s what good parents do

6%

For an educational experience for myself

6%

Had a coupon/free pass

1%

MOTIVATIONS DIFFERED BY GROUP T YPE People visiting in groups that included children appeared to be primarily motivated by others in their group, most commonly citing spending time together as a group/ family (41%) and fun/entertainment for others in their group (33%). Those visiting in adult-only groups appeared to be more motivated by personal interests, with nearly half citing seeing a specific exhibit, program, or show (48%).

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Of those who selected “To see a specific exhibit, program, or show,” they most commonly indicated that they came to see either POMPEII: THE EXHIBITION (62%) or an OMNIMAX® film (18%).


General Public Audience Profile What do guests do during their visit? AREAS VISITED Most guests spent time in the free galleries. The special exhibition, POMPEII: THE EXHIBITION, the gift shops, and the OMNIMAX® Theater were the most heavily visited revenue producing areas. (Multiple responses possible. Total exceeds 100%.) Free Galleries and Activities

86%

*Special Exhibition: POMPEII

23%

ExploreStore gift shop

15%

Food Court (near main lobby)

13%

The Loft (2nd floor snack area) Planetarium Show Pulseworks/360°/ VR Flight Simulators Discovery Room *Special Exhibition: GUITAR

Ecology & Environment

15%

Planetarium gift shop

9% 8% 7% 7% 4%

*Percentages shown for all items are based on the full year. GUITAR: The Instrument that Rocked the World was open January 19 - April 14. POMPEII: THE EXHIBITION was open May 17 - November 3. The OMNIMAX® Theater was closed for renovation July 29 - November 28.

HOW LONG DO VISITORS STAY AT THE SCIENCE CENTER?

72%

GameXPloration

67%

Life Science Lab – Atrium

53%

Mission: Mars - Control

53%

Experience Energy

52%

Structures

45%

Mission: Mars - Base

41%

Makerspace

35%

Liftoff

29%

GROW

28%

Dig Site

27%

^A New Moon Rises

26%

^Sun, Earth, Universe

23%

Math Cart

18%

Take the Controls

15%

Amazing Science Demonstrations

11%

Life Science Lab - Classroom

11%

Life Science Lab - Activity Benches

10%

^Art of Science

10%

^Percentages shown for all items are based on the full year. Sun, Earth, Universe opened June 10. Art of Science was removed June 20. A New Moon Rises opened June 21.

In 2019, visitors stayed an average of 2 hours, 19 minutes. 39%

Exit survey respondents identified which galleries they spent time in during their visit. Ecology & Environment, home to the Science Center’s iconic animatronic dinosaurs, was the most heavily visited, as it has been in previous years, followed closely by GameXPloration, which opened in late 2018. (Multiple responses possible. Total exceeds 100%.)

18%

*OMNIMAX®

FREE GALLERIES AND ACTIVITY AREAS VISITED

35%

15% 6%

5% Less than 1 hour

1 hr to 1 hr, 59 min

2 hr to 2 hr, 59 min

3 hours to 3 hr, 59 min

4 hours or longer

6


Guest Feedback What do guests say about their Science Center experiences? For over 20 years, the Science Center has used comment cards, which staff distribute daily to a random sampling of visitors, as a tool for tracking guest satisfaction and collecting feedback. COMMENT CARD FEEDBACK In 2019, guests completed 1,284 comment cards, on which they rated their visit from “Below Expectations” to “Above Expectations” using a four-point scale. The majority of the ratings (72%) were a ‘4,’ with a total of 92% of the comment cards having a rating of either ‘3’ or ‘4.’

92%

Percent of comment cards that had a positive rating (‘3’ or ‘4’ on a scale from 1 to 4)

The comment cards also invite guests to provide any feedback they choose to share. Guests’ comments are coded into 23 different categories based on the topic addressed. The comments are further identified as either a “Positive/General” comment, which expresses satisfaction or no problem, or an “Opportunity for Improvement,” which expresses dissatisfaction or offers a suggestion. Of the 1,284 cards guests completed in 2019, 91% included one or more comments, resulting in 1,922 total separate comments, the majority of which were positive in tone. Overall, the most commonly mentioned topics were: Special Exhibitions, Galleries, Staff, and General Positive.

TONE OF VISITORS’ COMMENTS

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT

28% POSITIVE/ GENER AL

72%

7

“We appreciate that you keep some traditional exhibits, like the dinosaurs, but are always adding more!” “I have lived in St. Louis since 1991 & have brought my children & now grandchildren. I appreciate how you change & add to keep it fresh.” “A generation since my last visit. Granddaughter had to ‘build’ the Arch twice. Years ago her mom did a science fair project on it after her visit. Ended up with [an] undergrad degree in architecture!” “My daughter loved the dinosaur exhibit and the chickens. We loved it and will be coming back soon.” “The planetarium show, Magnificent Moon was amazing! I’d never been to one before. Best part of the visit. My 8 year old loved it!” “We visited for an OMNIMAX movie. The new theater is amazing!” “Enjoyed Pompeii Exhibit. Very well done. Very professional & informative. Hope that the Science Center can get more exhibitions of this type.” “The staff are all friendly, helpful and interested, and go out of their way to make our visits enjoyable & educational.” “Thank you for being such a valuable resource of culture and knowledge for the region.” “Please reconfigure the parking situation! Very far to walk in all weather conditions & with little ones!” “I wish there were more workers/ volunteers around the various exhibits to engage visitors (especially kids) with questions, encouragement, learning, etc.”


The Science Center’s exit surveys, which use a common set of questions from the multi-institutional Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies (COVES), provide two additional measures of satisfaction: the Net Promoter Score (NPS®) and the Overall Experience Rating (OER). NET PROMOTER SCORE (NPS®) The NPS, which asks visitors how likely they would be to recommend visiting the Science Center, is a question used in a variety of service industries. On a scale of 0 – “Not at all likely” to recommend to 10 – “Extremely likely” to recommend, those who provide a rating of ‘9’ or ‘10’ are considered “Promoters,” those giving a rating of ‘7’ or ‘8’ are considered “Passives,” and those whose rating is ‘6’ or lower are considered

“Detractors.” The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters, therefore NPS scores can range from -100 to 100. In 2019, the Science Center’s NPS was 73, indicating a high level of satisfaction. For comparison, the 2019 NPS for the more than 30 science museums participating in COVES was 70.

2019 NET PROMOTER SCORE (NPS®) Likelihood to recommend visiting the Science Center NPS = % Promoters – % Detractors = 73.4 0–NOT AT ALL LIKELY

1% 2%

6%

Detractors (4.3%)

1

12%

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

14%

9

10–EXTREMELY LIKELY

63%

Passives (18.0%)

Promoters (77.7%)

OVER ALL EXPERIENCE R ATING (OER) The Overall Experience Rating (OER), which measures satisfaction, was developed and tested by the Smithsonian Institution. Many cultural institutions have since adopted it and it is included on the COVES exit survey tool. The OER asks respondents to rate their visit as “Poor,” “Fair,” “Good,” “Excellent,” or “Superior.” By providing an option that exceeds “Excellent,” the OER scale allows for greater differentiation about visit satisfaction than other measures.

In 2019, over 80% of respondents rated their Science Center experience as “Excellent” or “Superior,” suggesting a high level of satisfaction with their visit. Just as with the NPS rating, the Science Center’s OER ratings were comparable to the OER ratings across the aggregate of the over 30 science museums participating in COVES.

LESS THAN EXCELLENT EXCELLENT OR SUPERIOR

Good 17%

SAINT LOUIS SCIENCE CENTER 2019

Excellent 54%

Superior 28%

Poor Fair 0.6% 1% Good 14%

COVES AGGREGATE 2019

Fair 1%

Excellent 52%

Superior 35%

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Special Exhibitions Who visits special exhibitions and why do they come? Temporary special exhibitions are an important aspect of the Science Center’s offerings, providing guests the opportunity to see unique artifacts, experience new interactive elements, and explore topics that may not be covered in permanent galleries. They can encourage new visitors to come to the museum or entice past visitors to return. From May 17 to November 3, 2019, the Science Center hosted POMPEII: THE EXHIBITION. WHO CAME TO POMPEII: THE EXHIBITION? •

Two-thirds (67%) indicated that one of the primary reasons for their visit was to see the special exhibition.

Over two-thirds (68%) visited in adult-only groups.

The vast majority (84%) were repeat visitors to the Science Center, but many of them (62%) had not visited in over a year.

The majority (68%) were from the St. Louis Metro area.

132,142 Number of guests who visited POMPEII: THE EXHIBITION

WHAT DID THEY HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE? “This exhibit was amazing! Learning the history of this civilization was fascinating - they were people so ahead of their time - plumbing, restaurants, architecture, and takeout food!!” “We have been to Pompeii, and loved how the exhibit was organized, the depth of the information shared, and the beauty of the artifacts that we were able to see so close up. Very effective way of displaying the eruption, too.” “Read about Pompeii in the 2nd grade and found it very interesting and always wanted to go visit. Never did make it. When I heard you [had] artifacts from Pompeii I was so excited and I finally got to see part of Pompeii. I am now 63 years old and still talking about it.” “The Pompeii Exhibit was very informative and interesting. I enjoy exhibits like this because I have no children to bring to the Science Center. Keep bringing these amazing exhibits please.”

9

HOW DOES DATA INFORM THE SELECTION OF SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS? Because special exhibitions can help attract both new and repeat audiences, we regularly ask online survey participants what special exhibition topics would make them want to “come to the Science Center.” The four most frequently mentioned topics have consistently been History/Culture, Space, Dinosaurs, and Biology. This data helps inform which traveling shows, like POMPEII: THE EXHIBITION (2019) or Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission (2018), we bring to the Science Center.


Exhibit Evaluation Soil Cores in GROW How do guests help us test interactive exhibits? The goal of formative evaluation is to improve exhibit design by including visitors in iterative testing of exhibit concepts. This process, conducted while exhibits are being developed and refined, addresses both functionality and communication of educational content. THE CONCEPT The Missouri and Illinois agriculture maps in the GROW gallery have multiple interactive components exploring important concepts related to the production of food and agricultural products. Nine cores highlighting soils in prominent agricultural areas are a key interactive element. In the original exhibit, visitors would explore the soil cores by lifting shovel handles to reveal illustrated soil layers; however these were heavy and difficult to use. Thanks to a grant from the USDA, the team was charged with redesigning the interactive to present more realistic soil core models and create an easier way for visitors to learn that soil is a factor in what grows where. We tested two iterations of a revised prototype exhibit with guests.

WHAT WORKED •

A new electronic mechanism to raise the soil core, activated with a lever, was easier to use.

A larger surface area for the soil core helped increase the time visitors spent studying it.

With deeper engagement, more visitors understood that differences in soil properties and layers influence what grows in an area.

The addition of a small backlit panel within the core added a surprise element that led to visitor questions and conversations.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK •

The more accurate presentation of the soil made it difficult to discern the different layers.

Messaging about soil properties overshadowed content related to agricultural products.

Some people misinterpreted that soil color related to soil health.

Testing the prototype next to the original exhibit.

THE FINAL UPDATED EXHIBIT •

Dotted lines were added to help identify the layers.

The area around each soil core was colored the same shade as the region’s soil, to convey that soil types vary in color, regardless of soil health.

Toppers were added to each core to highlight prominent products in the region, including livestock and produce. This helped visitors connect to how a region’s soil type influences what grows there.

The final version of the updated soil core exhibit. 10


Educational Programs How do we track engagement in Science Center programs? Since 1997, the Saint Louis Science Center has collected information about the experiences of participants in our educational programs. The programs vary in length, format, audience, and content. We track what programs are delivered, the frequency with which programs occur, and the number of participants. We also collect feedback from participants.

The Science Center offers programs to a wide range of audiences, including the general public, children, families, schools, and adults. The programs vary in frequency: there are recurring programs, such as Summertime Science; programs delivered upon request, like Coaster Creations; and programs offered daily, such as live Planetarium Shows. In 2019, a total of 157,829 participant interactions occurred across 64 distinct programs, which were offered 3,823 times.

2019 SCIENCE CENTER PROGRAMS BY THE NUMBERS

157,829 11 Total number of participant interactions in programs.

79%

Of all interactions, 79% happened in General Public programs.

11

Average number of programs delivered by Science Center Educators every day.

3,185 Number of hours of programming delivered by Science Center Educators.


SPOTLIGHT ON ASTRONAUT ACADEMY Astronaut Academy, offered in Spring 2019, engaged elementary and middle school age children in learning what it takes to be an astronaut and how space impacts the human body. Through hands-on activities, participants tested their coordination, teamwork, and problem-solving skills, while learning about the effects of space on human anatomy. In 2019, the Astronaut Academy program happened 14 times, with an average of 30 participants each time. In their feedback, over a third (38%) of respondents talked about space, space exploration, or the distances between Earth, the moon, and Mars. An additional 30% focused on what makes life challenging for astronauts in space, like constant exercise, good nutrition, and using protective equipment.

“I learned that it can be unhealthy to go to space for a long time so you have to exercise.” - Child, Age 6-10

“It takes 9 months to get from Earth to Mars.” - Child, Age 6-10

Suggestions for improvement included increasing the level of interactivity, making the program longer, and providing the students with samples of “space food.” The positive feedback, as well as the range of takeaway points relating to anatomy, the lives of astronauts, and space exploration, show that Astronaut Academy is a strong program that communicates content in an engaging way.

SPOTLIGHT ON YOUTH EXPLORING SCIENCE (YES) For over 20 years, the Youth Exploring Science (YES) program has provided engaging, informal STEM learning for local area high school students. The program also helps the students, typically from groups that are underrepresented in STEM fields, recognize their potential as STEM learners and professionals. Starting at the end of 8th grade, students are first introduced to science interpretation by guiding younger children through activities in community summer programs. After the summer, they choose from several individual components, where they take a deep dive into topics such as cybersecurity, integrated medicine, and agriscience over their next four years. The program also fosters skill development for college and career readiness.

YES BY THE NUMBERS

1,130

Number of teens who have completed the program since its inception, 100% of whom graduated high school.

86%

Percent of 2019 YES graduates attending college or joining the military.

3,800 Number of children and adults for whom YES teens facilitated hands-on STEM experiences in 2019.

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Exploring Earth Science How does evaluation help shape content for future exhibitions? The purpose of front-end evaluation is to learn what audiences know, are interested in, or have questions about on a certain topic. In the early stages of exhibit development, front-end evaluation provides key information used to help determine the design, content, and structure of an exhibition. In 2019, in anticipation of future updates to the Ecology & Environment gallery, we began investigating the topic of Earth Science with our visitors. One approach engaged guests age six and up with a card sort activity. Participants sorted a stack of 21 cards depicting different science disciplines into three categories: things they thought were Earth Science, things they thought were not Earth Science, and things they were not sure about. Once participants sorted the cards, they selected the three Earth Science topics they found “most interesting.”

TOPICS OF GREATEST INTEREST Of the topics presented, Volcanology, Mineralogy, Oceanography, Paleontology, and Climate Change were selected most frequently as “interesting.” Volcanology and Climate Change were each chosen by more than a quarter of adults, whereas Mineralogy and Paleontology were far more popular topics among children. This study demonstrated that adults and children are interested in a wide range of Earth Science topics. While most of the science terms were familiar to participants, there is an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary and address ambiguity around topics that may or may not be seen as related to Earth Science, such as Astronomy. As Earth Science is an incredibly broad discipline, data from this card sort study can help focus future Science Center offerings on the topic.

WHAT IS AND ISN’T EARTH SCIENCE? The topics most frequently associated with Earth Science were Oceanography, Geology, Soil Science, Volcanology, and Mineralogy. The topics sorted as “not Earth Science” most commonly were Mathematics, Health Science, Zoology, and Astronomy. Petrology, or the study of rocks, was the topic that ended up in the “Don’t Know” column most often. EARTH SCIENCE

NOT EARTH SCIENCE

I DON’T KNOW

TWO MOST COMMON EARTH SCIENCE TOPICS OCEANOGRAPHY

91%

GEOLOGY MATHEMATICS HEALTH SCIENCE

27%

TWO MOST COMMON NOT EARTH SCIENCE TOPICS 71% TWO MOST COMMON I DON’T KNOW TOPICS 4% 77% 48%

32% 13

2%

64%

34%

PETROLOGY ANTHROPOLOGY

6% 4% 8% 4%

88%

41%

2% 20% 11%

Volcanology was selected as “interesting” by nearly a third of participants. This likely received a bump from the OMNIMAX® film, Volcanoes, and the special exhibition, POMPEII, which were available while this study was in progress.

A young visitor engages in a card sort activity to demonstrate his understanding of Earth Science topics.


Thank You Through all of our evaluation studies, we collected over 12,350 points of data from our audiences in 2019! Thank you to everyone who filled out a comment card, completed an exit survey, responded to an online survey request, tried out an exhibit prototype, or participated in an interview or focus group.

We hope you enjoyed a glimpse of our visitor studies work from 2019. These data provide valuable insights into who visits the Science Center, why they visit, and what they do on-site. This information is crucial to improving the Science Center experience. Thank you to the guests who come to explore galleries and see shows, and thank you to the people who participate in Science Center programs in the community. You are why we are here. Thank you to all our supporters. Without you, we would not be able to connect more than a million people to STEM learning every year. Though we live in challenging times, we will continue to fulfill our mission to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning.

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Saint Louis Science Center, 5050 Oakland Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110

Profile for Saint Louis Science Center

2019 Opening Minds to Science  

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